An open letter to all those dealing with
Human Rights, Workers’ Rights and Women’s Rights
In 2003 Women’s Education & Research Centre (WERC) did a survey of the Domestic Servants employed in Colombo. And having realised the injustice done to them by the System of Recruitment and the general treatment given to them by their employers, we met a host of people including the Ministers of Labour and other concerned groups and brought to the attention of the ILO and some Trade Unions.
However, no one except the National Workers Congress paid any attention to the issue, and the system continues till today without any amelioration procedures or processes. The general apathy of the political and the civil society continue unashamedly. And what is the consequence?
Today we hear of the deaths of the two under-aged domestic servants.
How many more deaths do we have to count?
Will the authorities who have the power to make and amend laws listen to us at least now? We reproduce below what we published in the media and sent to persons and organisations in 2003.
* Registration of Domestic Aides with the Department of Labour by employers, who shall keep the department informed of changes in the place of employment of those registered, to be made compulsory with a fine of Rs. 20,000/= for failure to do so.
* Domestic Service to be regulated by contract as full, part-time or on hourly basis with social benefits accruing to each category.
* EPF and ETF to apply to Domestic Aides
* Leave entitlement of Domestic Aides should be determined. E.g:
1) One Day a week/total of 30 days per annum
2) Sick/medical leave
3) Maternity leave
* Minimum wage of Rs. 3,500= per month, subject to higher actual wage negotiated between employer and Domestic Aides leading to a contractual agreement as envisaged at 2 above
* If employment is full-time, a rest period of 2 hours, twice a day should be provided
* Privacy ensured – provision of separate sleeping area and bath and toilet facilities
* Employers permit normal interaction with visiting family members, provided the letter has indicated their relationship and frequency of visits mutually agreed upon.
The age of the domestic servants, we feel, should be the concern of any authority and institution that have to monitor the recruitment procedures.
We have now two Ministers in the present regime who are from the Left Movement of the Old Left. Do they still want to help the working class of their country or have they abdicated working class interests and want to reform the Capitalist System?!
Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran
On behalf of WERC