91% of domestic workers not paid during lockdown: survey

As many as 91% of domestic workers were not paid salaries in April and 50% of workers, who were above the age of 50, lost their jobs, according to a survey conducted by Domestic Workers’ Rights Union (DWRU), Bruhat Bangalore Gruhakarmika Sangha (BBGS), and Manegelasa Kaarmikara Union.

According to the survey on the impact of lockdown on domestic workers, which covered 2,500 domestic workers, 2,084 (87%) of the domestic workers were told not to come to work after the lockdown with no communication if they would be called again. As many as 341 workers in the areas surveyed by BBGS and 150 workers in the areas surveyed by Manegelasa Kaarmikara Union lost their jobs during the lockdown.

Members of several domestic workers’ unions staged a peaceful sit-in protest at Karmika Bhavana on Monday demanding compensation from the Labour Department and the government, and to ensure their right to retain their jobs. They also submitted the report of the survey to the department along with various demands.

“All domestic workers, irrespective of the category, should be included in the social security net. As immediate income and livelihood support, a cash transfer of ₹3,000 every month for the months of April and May, and till the end of this year should be given,” the report recommends.

Speaking to The Hindu, Radha K., field activist, DWRU, said that the government should direct the Labour Department to ensure domestic workers are registered as workers and included in social safety/security programmes of the government.

“According to an estimate, there are around four lakh domestic workers in the city. Most of them are in deep trouble. It is a question of their survival,” she said.


A domestic worker from Jayanagar, who participated in the protest, told The Hindu that she temporarily sold vegetables, as she did not have any source of income during the lockdown. “It has been many days since the lockdown-related restrictions were lifted, but I still do not have any work,” she said.

Another domestic worker said that many places where she worked before were paying her only half the salary. “The work is the same, but I am paid half the salary. I am compelled to work because earning something is better than going hungry,” she said.

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Sagar Biswas

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