After being promised a higher pay, Anju Bibi (32), a domestic help, left her job at one of the houses in Noida’s Sector 50 and took up work at a house in Prateek Wisteria in Sector 77. Fifteen days later, she was fired by her new employer.
“When the lockdown was implemented, I was given Rs 1,600 and told to leave. Now, no one is hiring… we do not know when we will get jobs again,” said Bibi, who used to work at four houses but was only paid her dues by two employers.
Bibi lives in Sarfabad Village in Sector 75, where most of the women work as domestic helps in nearby housing societies. Since the lockdown, most have left, with a majority leaving on May 27 for their hometowns in West Bengal via Shramik Special trains.
Among the few still in the village is Rehela Parveen (31), who said she has been calling her former employer 8-10 times a day for her dues. “One of my employers owes me Rs 5,000 for March. They can send it to me on Paytm but they keep cutting my call or switch off their phones,” she said.
“The societies don’t let us enter. If they do, we aren’t permitted to work in more than one house. Our employers call us and tell us to return to our villages. If I leave, I won’t come back,” she said. Many are waiting for the lockdown to end so they can find new jobs. But the going has been tough and a few have resorted to begging for food.
“Someone suggested this a month ago. This has become my livelihood now,” said Poonam Posaha (57), who waited for a helping hand outside Jal Vayu Vihar market in Sector 25.
Posaha said she had worked at a house in Sector 40 for over four years: “I am getting old and I have a back injury. I had a feeling my employers would get rid of me sooner or later… If nothing works out, I will continue asking for money and food on the roads.”
A similar situation prevails in Delhi as well. “I worked at two homes in Lajpat Nagar. While one pays me every month, the other fired me. They are very affluent but they paid me only Rs 2,000 for March. My husband got dengue and I got him admitted to a private hospital as government hospitals are dealing with coronavirus. I borrowed money from acquaintances to pay the hospital charge of Rs 20,000. I have also been unable to pay rent of Rs 6,000,” said Rinku Devi (33).
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