Domestic helps in Meghalaya to be included in wages act

SHILLONG: Domestic helps in the state are the most marginalized and exploited lot with no social security and no guarantee of even two square meals a day. They virtually have no holiday and are allowed very little or no rest during the day. However, their contribution to society is immense.

This relentless struggle of domestic helps is now beginning to bear fruits with state labour minister Ampareen Lyngdoh announcing that the inclusion of domestic workers in the Minimum Wage Act (MWA) is in the offing.

Informing that the government is working on the cabinet memo in this regard, Lyngdoh said, "Soon the domestic workers of the state will be included under the MWA."

Dwelling on the mode of payment under the MWA, Lyngdoh said daily wages will be hiked and unskilled workers will get Rs 165 a day, semi-skilled workers will get Rs 170, workers with certificates from recognized institutions will get Rs 185 and workers possessing skill development certificates will get Rs 200.

The minister added that enrollment of domestic workers under the Employees' State Insurance Scheme of India (ESIS) is also on the cards.

"The state already has welfare measures and the domestic workers will be enrolled in the welfare centres after recognition," she said in reply to the demand for setting up a separate welfare board for the workers.

Almost 90 per cent of domestic helps in the state are women or children and a significant number is between the age group of 12 to 25 and 25 per cent are below the age of 14, a study revealed. "They suffer from wide-scale discrimination and thrive without social security and are totally dependent on their employers for food and shelter," an NGO activist said.