Masada Kai: Domestic Workers at Apartments are Often Underpaid and Cut-off From Family

This episode of Masada Kai features Manjula, a domestic worker who works at apartment buildings. To work in such households, one should have an Aadhar Card without fail. When the workers submit the Aadhar Card at the security room, they receive an ID card, for which they have to pay INR 25. This card should be kept safely with the domestic worker throughout the year. If the card is lost then they have to get a new card for which the workers needs to pay INR 100. “Actually, this expense should be taken care of by the owners of the houses these workers go to, but they usually do not take up this responsibility.”

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Workers are not allowed an entry without the card. If by chance they forget to get it, they are allowed in only if the security recognises their face and have seen them regularly.

Working hours usually start at 6:00 am in the apartments. All owners have a fixed rate for each work, no matter how many members stay in a house. For example, to wash one bucket of clothes, the payment is INR 500. If an advance amount is taken by the domestic help then house-owners tend to saddle them with extra work until that amount is cleared. Owners are known to behave rudely with these workers when work is not done exactly as per their requirement. “If we go on a leave, we have to face their angry faces the next day!” The workers are also told that only INR 1,000 will be paid for extra work, but often pay just half of it once the work is done.

In this conversation, Manjula also recounts the story of a full-time worker from Kolkata. “Food is not provided regularly to this girl. She is surviving on puri (Kannada word). Money is sent to her family members through online transfer and if this girl falls sick, she is not given even a tablet.” These workers are often unable to, or not allowed to, talk to their family members regularly and for a long time. Owners stay in their vicinity, so they can’t complain about their problems either.

Listen in…

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