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National domestic workers'' day observed

Section of a gathering at the programme on National Domestic Workers’ Day on Saturday. (NP)
Staff Reporter DIMAPUR, JAN 29 (NPN):
Published on 30 Jan. 2011 12:42 AM IST
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Voicing concern over absence of regulation of fixed hours of work and fixed wages in the state, Nagaland joint labour commissioner and HoD directorate of labour & employment Er. Nungshiyanger Aier assured that the department would be approaching the state government to establish a Domestic Workers’ Welfare Board for redressal of such issues.
Er. Aier was speaking as chief guest at the National Domestic Workers’ Day programme organized by National Domestic Workers’ Movement (NDWM) Nagaland region Saturday at Assisi Hall Dimapur.
Stating that many minor domestic workers reportedly worked for 8-18 hours a day whereas Labour Act limit was 8 hours for adults, He stated that exploitative nature of domestic work continued unabated due to absence of fixed regulations for domestic workers.
Citing the examples of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra where the respective state governments have established Domestic Workers’ Welfare Board, the chief guest asked the state NDWM unit and Assisi centre to get the schedule from these established courts so that the department could prepare to address the state government to set up the same in Nagaland.
Also pointing out that state’s Minimum Wages (MW) Act which was last revised in 2010 with fixed wage rate for unskilled labors at `100 did not include domestic workers, Er. Aier stated that the department would initiate steps to address the government for implementing inclusion of domestic workers under the Act during the next revision period in 2012, he said.
Meanwhile, the department head said demand for domestic workers was on the rise along with escalation of consumerism in many places including Nagaland, adding that some households now even kept 3-4 domestic workers.
Er. Aier expressed concern that while 90% of the total domestic workers were women, 25% were below 14 years of age as per reports, with most of them coming from the rural areas.
Lamenting that there had been cases of physical abuse on domestic workers in the past, some of which amounted to “torture”, the chief guest urged upon domestic workers to be sincere and honest, and employers to treat the former decently.
Delivering an overview of the movement, NDWM Nagaland region coordinator Sr. Therese Vanlalhruaii UFS stated that the organization, active in 23 states of India, focuses on domestic workers (minors and migrants), their education, awareness about their legal and other rights, and to stop violation of their basic human rights and social discrimination.
The specific situations in which domestic workers worked made them vulnerable and often subject to ill treatment and abuses, she stated, adding they also often worked long hours but received less in return- very low wages, little rest and no decent conditions of living.
NDWM strives to facilitate empowerment of such workers by encouraging their participation in the movement through various training programmes and workshops, she stated.
The movement also provides crisis intervention, rescue, rehabilitation and re-integration of abused or victimized domestic workers, along with legal and medical assistance and networking with human rights activists, lawyers, doctors, police, VOs, NGOs and counselors.
On activities of the movement, Sr. Therese said NDWM would be conducting intense lobbying and advocacy with the Centre for the National Domestic Workers’ Bill, whose draft was formulated by Domestic Workers’ Rights Campaign. She also said regional consultations were being organized to ensure the participation of domestic workers in formulation of the legislation.
Also stating that central labour ministry and members of parliament were being initiated for the move, the regional NDWM coordinator called upon the chief guest to lobby with respective MPs in support of the Bill.
She added that campaign for ILO convention demanding government to be a signatory on the recommendation of the convention would also continue, including NDWM’s efforts to pressurize government to implement ban on child domestic work, and rescue, rehabilitate and protect them in future.
The programme was highlighted by colorful dances and skits presented by NDWM members and several victims of child trafficking and domestic abuse who were rescued by NDWM Nagaland region during the past year. It was learnt that the movement rescues an average of 1 victim of child trafficking or domestic abuse every month.
Ursuline Franciscan Society of North East provincial superior Sr. Milly Fernandes was the guest of honour of the occasion.

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