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Legislative Landmarks

Through its extensive work with domestic workers and other stakeholders, NDWM has managed to bring about some impact in the justice and legislative system for the Domestic workers in the country.

The achievements in the field of Domestic Workers are as follows:

  • The Domestic Workers (Conditions and Services) Bill 1996, introduced in Parliament in 1998
  • Advocates Mr. Colin Gonsalves, Ms. AparnaBhat, Mr. P. Ramesh Kumar, and Mr. Vipin M. Benjamin filed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL): National Domestic Workers’ Welfare Trust and Others (Petitioners) versus Union of India (Respondent). This lawsuit seeks to compel the respondent to enact comprehensive litigation protecting the rights of domestic workers throughout India. On April 10, 2003, the Honorable Justices Mrs. Ruma Pal and Mr. B.N. Srikrishna of the Supreme Court of India agreed to hear the PIL. This was an important breakthrough for NDWM after ten years advocacy on behalf of the implementation of legislation protecting domestic workers.
  • Tamil Nadu Domestic Workers Welfare Board (constituted 22 January 2007) under section 6 of the Tamil Nadu Manual Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Work) Act 1982 – Nomination of Chairman and Members-Orders-Issued;
  • The Central government amended the Central Civil Service Conduct Rules to prohibit any government official/civil servants from employing children below the age of 14 years as domestic workers.
  • Indian law prohibits the employment of children below 14 years age, in certain occupations in accordance to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act 1986. By 10 October 2006, the ban on child labour included employment of children in domestic work.

Relief work during the pandemic

Thanks to the volunteers who risked the threat of infection, NDWM was able to reach out and provide dry rations, masks, sanitisers and gloves to the most affected families. It was a much appreciated and even life saving gesture for many of the domestic workers especially those living in remote areas during the lockdown. During 2020, NDWM volunteers were able to reach out to 41,880 beneficiaries. NDWM also organised skill training for 5657 workers to learn a variety of new marketable skills. 6959 domestic workers were also seed capital to launch small businesses and earn supplemental income besides their wages.

Domestic workers in the forefront

From its inception, NDWM has encouraged domestic workers to take centre- stage in the movement. This has not remained just a pious hope, but has become a reality. Since 1985, NDWM has emphasised the importance of training and capacity building for domestic workers. Most of them were not fortunate enough to get a decent education and could barely, read, write or speak in public at the time of joining NDWM. Awareness of their rights and dignity and inputs on communication and leadership skills through interactive nonformal sessions in their regional languages has been a game changer. It has transformed them into informed and empowered individuals confident enough to speak about their issues to employers and high-ranking Government officials.
During 2020 alone, despite the pandemic 5865 workers participated in online training programs. Skill training programs were also organised for 5657 workers to learn a variety of new marketable skills. 6959 domestic workers were also given seed capital to launch small businesses. Both these projects have helped to ward off the vicious cycle of indebtedness. Workers’ cooperatives are also being initiated, with over 1559 workers being educated through awareness sessions.
The advocacy teams comprising worker leaders and coordinators maintained their contacts with nearly 121 Government officials across states to lobby for relief, unemployment benefits and social security measures. These contacts were backed by campaigns at the grassroot level. 20200 posters and 7500 post cards and memoranda were submitted to the offices of Chief Ministers and Labour Ministry officials highlighting issues like fixation and enforcement of minimum wages, formation of new special Social Security Welfare Boards for domestic workers and registration of workers in current Welfare Boards and welfare measures in different states. A PIL and writ petition was also filed to get legal relief from courts.
In the area of ensuring social security benefits, 5049 domestic workers were beneficiaries of several schemes, and the number of registrations to Social Security Welfare Boards increased to 9430, even as the process involved several delays due to restricted working of Government offices during the pandemic.