Domestic workers are left with no jobs and less payment after Covid-19. Their payment has reduced to half as the employers are also facing economic crisis.
For the unorganized sector, the pandemic has been a nightmare. The pandemic-induced economic crisis has made the lives of domestic workers even worse than before. With a daily drop of covid-19 cases in India, Bangalore is coming back to normalcy. But domestic workers are still struggling for their hard-earned money. Their salaries have been reduced by half after the pandemic by their employers. Bharti, a domestic worker said, “We are not allowed to take leaves and if we take, they cut our salaries. If they have any celebration, they make us work extra but pay less. After corona (outbreak) people are scared, they think we will make them sick so they don’t let us do everything. Madam has reduced my salary also. Earlier they used to pay me Rs. 1500, now they pay me 700.”
On July 2021, Karnataka government assured the High Court that all domestic workers who will provide Aadhar details, a certificate signed by their employer and particulars of their banks will be provided with 2000 rupees as Covid-relief fund. Radha, who has been working with Stree Jagruti Samiti as a field volunteer since the past seven years, said, “They have no awareness about the scheme because to avail this they need to provide a lot of documents. In some places, domestic workers paid middle men who can get them the amount but they took 500 out of the 2000 rupees. They needed an employer’s sign but nobody in Banashankari was ready to sign. It took us three months to get only 500 beneficiaries their relief fund.”
A survey by Bruhat Bangalore Gruhakarmika Sangha state that out of 91% domestic workers who had lost their job during lockdown, only 70% of them have rejoined the workforce and are working in much lower wages than before. 30% of them have not even joined their work. Githa Menon, who has been working with domestic workers for a long time and fighting for their rights said, “Minimum Wage act is there; the point is not the act being there or not. The point is what is the government doing to make it mandatory? Till today there is no case filed under that, no conviction under that. Even when in normal time to get what is implemented under the act has been very difficult, no-one comes to complain even if the women come to complain immediately the employer will throw them out.”
The number of workers earning low wages increased by 30% from April 2020 to November 2021. Domestic workers’ Unions believe that the struggle for the workers equal payment has a long way to go.