Shivaram Hebbar, The Labour Minister of Karnataka,
We want the implementation of the March 28 Government of India advisory to ensure domestic workers in Karnataka are paid their due, during the lockdown.
Ratna, a mother of three, wakes up at 5 am every morning to prepare food for her children before she leaves for the day. She works. in one of the many apartment complexes around Sarjapur road, just a few kilometers away from where she stays. She walks everywhere she needs to go. From house to house, she sweeps, swabs, cleans, and cooks. Only to return home exhausted but able to provide for her family.
Times have changed now, ever since the COVID19 lockdown. Ratna has much more time to spend with her family. But as she looks at their faces, the burning question of “how will I feed them?” is always left unanswered.
Domestic workers, along with daily wagers, have been among the hardest hit amidst this pandemic. With little to no job security and no access to relief schemes, domestic workers often have to rely on the good graces of their employers for any assistance. Their money is spent on essentials as fast as it comes in, the idea of social isolation is often not a privilege they can afford. But COVID19 needs ALL of us to be able to isolate ourselves. If anyone is unable to do this, their chances of infection and subsequently their families’ chances of exposure rise drastically. For us to beat this disease, we all need to work together to enable one another to isolate.
The Maharashtra Labour dept recently requested information from each district co-operation housing society on cooks, maids, sweepers, drivers. To help provide them with financial aid through Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandhan. But in Bangalore, most domestic workers may not even have the bank account or Adhaar details necessary to avail the same.
Karnataka can also rise to this challenge -- and our citizens can be kinder and more empathetic to the vulnerable. A March 29 Government of India1 order makes it clear that deduction of wages during the lockdown will be construed as a legal offence. Implement the advisory and ensure domestic workers are paid their due, during the lockdown.
We ask the labor ministry to implement this now! All domestic help mandatorily be given time off by their employers, with no salary or pay cut. Live-in help can be excluded. A move like this stands to benefit every single individual in Karnataka, we cannot fight COVID-19 alone. Let’s stop this disease’s vicious spread together. Let’s ensure that our domestic help is able to stay at home without worrying about fending for basics.