680 domestic workers identified in Kohima; poor working condition, false accusation, abuse, and sexual harassment common
Kohima, June 14 (EMN): Domestic workers in Kohima have chosen to send a message to the state government through a card instead of hitting the streets to make their voice heard. They launched a week-long postcard campaign at the head Post Office in the state capital city on Friday, demanding the government to address their issues.
The postcard contains several demands of the workforce and not greetings for the state government. The movement is part of the Northeast Domestic Workers’ Week from June 10 to 16th initiated by a non-profit organisation called Ferrando Domestic Workers’ Alliance (FDWA).
Coordinator of FDWA, Kohima, Rev. Sister Theresa Langhu said that the purpose of the campaign was to work towards achieving domestic workers’ dignity, justice, and solidarity at the state, national and international levels.
The postcard addressed to the President of India, Prime Minister, Governor of Nagaland, Chief Minister of the state and minister of Labour has demands, including fixation of minimum wages under the Minimum Wages Act 1948, setting up of Welfare Board for domestic workers, to provide specific social security, and registration of domestic workers with labour department.
The FDWA has identified 680 domestic workers in Kohima town alone, out of which 350 of them have registered with the organisation, informed Sister Theresa Langhu, adding that identifying domestic workers is a “challenging task” as most of them is not willing to come out and register with the organisation.
“Most of our domestic workers are illiterate and come from vulnerable communities and backward areas. Among them, a good number of them are migrants,” she said. Some of the major issues of the domestic workers include underpayment, lack of decent wages, poor working condition, false accusation, abused, and sexual harassment at work place etc., she pointed out.
Echungthung Yanthan, Assistant Superintendent of Post Offices, Kohima said: “Postcard campaign is a very cost-effective and efficient way to communicate an important message, an agendum or any untold problem and struggles that is being faced and wish to be heard, and to reach out to the public, government and officials.”
He pointed out that domestic workers are “least protected workforce” in the state as well as in the country. Often, domestic workers are illiterate or semi-literate, mostly women and girls who are ignorant of their rights, he added.
The officer is optimistic that the week-long movement will help empower them and to stand together and fight for their identity, dignity, and justice.
“Let the voice of the voiceless be heard through the postcards and bring a sustainable change to the lives of the domestic workers,” he added.
A domestic worker names Velelou Vadeo shared the plight of the domestic workers, saying that they were paid a meagre INR 250 to 300 per day for 7-8 hours of work. The hard-earned money is spent on travelling fare if the work place is far, she said.
While sharing her experience, she demanded that the salary of the domestic workers be increased and get them registered with the labour department.