Welfare promised,but IDs elusive for domestic workers in city

Domestic workers in Pune have alleged they’re facing difficulty getting IDs of the state government’s Domestic Workers’ Welfare Board because of vested political interests.

Written by PRASAD JOSHI | Published: May 1, 2013 3:05:49 am

Domestic workers in Pune have alleged they’re facing difficulty getting IDs of the state government’s Domestic Workers’ Welfare Board because of vested political interests.

Over 50,000 domestic workers — mostly women — have registered themselves with the board since it was set up in 2011,but only around 4,000 have so far been issued IDs,official records show.

The board,set up in accordance with a law passed in 2008,aims to extend benefits like the Janashri insurance policy and financial assistance for children’s education to domestic workers who are otherwise not covered by any labour law.

“Enrolment for the board began just before the Pune Municipal Corporation elections in early 2012. Candidates paid the registration charge of Rs 90 for each domestic worker in their areas to secure a vote bank,but kept the original receipts with them. Workers are now having to run from pillar to post to get the receipts back,” Sudhakar Kulkarni,leader of a domestic workers’ body affiliated to the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh,said.

Kiran Moghe,Pune district secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU),said that workers who failed to submit the receipts ran the risk of being declared bogus by the board. “The registered workers are not bogus,but the persons who enrolled them by paying for their membership and are now holding on to the receipts are bogus,” she said.

The workers have accused Sachin Shinde,labour unions’ representative on the state-level advisory committee on matters related to the board,of “depriving” them of their right to have the ID cards.

Shinde told Newsline: “It is true that local political leaders have paid for the registration charges. It is also true that the receipts of payment done towards registration were with us. But we have been issuing them as per demand. If any domestic worker has a problem,that individual can contact me.”

There are additional problems of inadequate staff and funds both in Pune and in other parts of the state. Assistant labour commissioner A Kaktkar said only around 1.9 lakh out of a total 4-5 million domestic workers in the state had so far registered for membership of the welfare board. Efforts were on to improve the situation,he said.

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