Mamatha has been working as a house help for the past 19 years. Initially, she used to be paid Rs. 300 per month for all the work in a house, and today, the rate has gone up to Rs. 1,000. “From a few households, I get a bonus and a sari whenever there is a major festival. A few house-owners give me nothing extra.” In most houses, no emergency holidays are allowed and if at all she has to go, she has to find a replacement.
Mamatha says that in her 19 years of work, she has worked with all types of employers. “A few treated me only as a worker while a few treated me as a daughter or a sister. A few have asked me to eat breakfast after I am done with my work, a few have given me tea before I start my work. A few won’t even talk to me the next day if at all I go on sick leave, while a few will pour out all their anger on me for the leave. A few have asked me why I should be paid more for doing the same work every year, while a few have provided increments without me even asking.”