Two day HMS/ILO National Workshop for Domestic Workers Union

 “Strategies to eliminate Child Labour among domestic workers” was organised at Indian Social Institute,  Institutional Area, Lodi Road, New Delhi during 4-5 May, 2011 with the following objectives :-

The workshop was attended by 22 participants from States like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttrakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh.
The programme was inaugurated by Mr. Ariel B Castro, Senior Specialist, Workers Activities, ILO Country Office India. In his address Mr. Ariel said that ILO has taken the issue of domestic Workers very seriously and plans to adopt a convention for Decent Work for Domestic Workers. Trade Unions should intensify their campaign to persuade all stakeholders to support the campaign for ratification of convention 138 and 182.

Topics such as Domestic worker- their role and importance,–
Strategies to elimination child labour
Elimination of child labour- role of stakeholders
Child labour among domestic workers, nature, extent and problems were discussed.

The speakers included Shri Anand Swaroop, National Campaign Coordinator, Mrs. Sherin Khan, Senior Specialist, Child Labour, Country Office ILO, New Delhi, Dr. Helen R. Sekar of V.V. Giri National Labour Institute, Noida, Mrs. Vinita Singh from “We the People” N.G.O., Shri R. K. Thakar, Zonal Director, Central Board for Workers Education, North Zone, Delhi.

A case study on organising domestic workers in Maharashtra and achievements were presented by Shri Surya Kant Baal, General Secretary, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Maharashtra State Council which was a source of inspiration to the participants.

Most of the domestic Workers are widows or divorcee, domestic work has been culturally accepted, frequent change of job, verbal and sexual abuse, lack of education, deplorable working conditions, low status of domestic workers, round the clock control of employer, far off from their own places and lonely. A survey was conducted by HMS Maharashtra State which showed that 90% domestic workers stay in slums. There are more than 30 lakh domestic workers  in Maharashtra.

He said that on the initiative of Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Maharashtra State Council, all Central Trade Unions came together and an organization of the Domestic Workers namely “Molkarin Gharelu Kamgar Sabha, Maharashtra” has been formed and he was elected as Convenor of the Coordination Committee. The organization staged a massive dharna before the Assembly of Maharashtra on 16th March, 2011. More than 20,000 female domestic workers participated in Dharna. Chief Minister Shri Prithvi Raj Chouhan called the delegation for discussion. Some issues were settled and on others it was agreed to continue the dialogue.          

 

ILO Convention 138 pertaining to ‘Minimum Age for Child Labour’, ILO Convention 182 ‘Worse form of Child Labour’,  Convention 87 ‘Freedom of Association and Protection of Right to Organise’ and Convention 98 ‘Right to organised and Collective Bargaining’ were discussed at length and participants were advised to pursue the government through their organization  to ratify the above conventions.

Draft ILO Convention on domestic Workers was discussed and provided to the participants.

Group discussions on Impact and ill effects of Child Labour and strategies to eliminate the Child Labour were conducted. The participants identified the ill effects of child labour and ways to overcome the ill effects which are as follows:-

Poverty and illiteracy, affects physical and mental state of the child, brings social inequality and fear of insecurity. It deprives the child of education and good health and the childhood is lost. The Child becomes prone to malnutrition and diseases such as T.B. that shortens life span. Child labour eats adult employment and also affects adult wages. It increases crime in the society.

Remedies suggested : Should start from zero child labour tolerance zone from neighbours, mohalla and village thus a chain will be developed, should try for social boycott through Mahila Mandal, Village Panchayat, religious and community groups of the persons who engage child labour. General awareness, union slogan, street plays, pamphlets, handbills, posters and wall writing, we should attempt change of mental attitude towards child labour specially among domestic workers. Proper survey of child labour be concluded and  phased rehabilitation of child labour be attempted. Assistance from corporate houses be obtained, organized workers should also come forward for elimination of child labour as social responsibility of Trade Unions. The issue of child labour is discussed in all union meetings.

Shri R.A.Mital, Secretary, Hind Mazdoor Sabha in his closing remark said that it is a very burning issue and correct figure of child labour is not available. Significant features of last  censes is that figure of child labour is increasing which Shri Mital said right to vote, right to work, right to education and right to information will be helping tools in elimination of child labour. He referred Russia where schools are functioning as per need of the area and there is no difference between an ordinary child and a child from Chief Managing Director, admission is granted through aptitude test.

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