The nature of Indian economy is predominantly informal. According to a recent report of the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector, there are about 422.6 million informal economy workers in India. About 90.7 per cent of male workers and 95 per cent of female workers in the non-agriculture sector are employed as informal workers. Out of the regular women wageworkers, nearly 54 per cent are employed by the private households in domestic services [ibid]. The National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector has estimated that there are 4 million domestic workers who work as helpers in the houses of others. Of them, 92 per cent are women, girls and children and 20 per cent are under 14 years of age [ibid]. However, according to some sources, these figures are underestimated and the number of domestic workers in the country could be as high as 20 million.
Not withstanding the fact that there are small variations in the work and living conditions of domestic workers of various categories, one common characteristic is that domestic workers are denied the protection of decent work. This is particularly true in the case of domestic workers as they are largely excluded by labour laws.
The proposed project would pilot test domestic workers’ organization for socio-economic empowerment of domestic workers in slum areas of Bangalore city in partnership with trade unions and other stakeholders. This pilot project will help demonstrate if unionization of domestic workers can help improve their working and living conditions and whether it can be replicated to other unorganized sectors and areas. Since ILO is already considering to place on the agenda of the 2010 International Labour Conference for standard setting on decent work for domestic workers, preceded by tripartite experts meeting in 2009 to examine the potential contents of international instrument, successful pilot testing of the project would provide the necessary inputs for the said purpose. The specific objectives of the project are as follows:
2.1 Short term objectives
- To help the domestic workers to get organized;
- To train the domestic workers to improve their domestic work skills, including work discipline and good manners and to impart training to selected domestic workers for acquiring new skills; and
- To sensitize and conscientize the domestic workers and the employers about the labour law, child labour, social security, gender dimension etc.
2.2 Medium and long term objectives
- To achieve decent work goals for domestic workers on sustainable basis, by improving the working and living conditions as well as capacity in project areas through organizing, skill upgradation and training and advocacy; and
- To strengthen the capacity of implementing partner union – the Indian National Trade Union Congress-Karnataka - by organizing unorganized domestic workers as well as networking with various stakeholders.