A minimum hourly wage of Rs 54, the right to use toilets in the houses they work, four days off per month, paid maternity leave, pension, proper employment contracts, a welfare board and crèches for children — these are among the demands put forward by domestic helps in the state, with around 2,000 of them hitting the streets of Kolkata on Friday.
Under the banner of ‘Paschim Banga Griha Paricharika Samity’, which was recently recognised as a trade union by the government, the workers gathered near Sealdah railway station and marched to Rani Rashmoni Road. Later, they submitted a deputation to the chief minister’s office at the state secretariat. They plan to meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and lobby with MLAs for a law to ensure their rights.
“Even today, we face discrimination. We are not allowed to use the washroom and are given stale food and leftovers. Through our demands, we want respect as an employee. When we are pregnant, many employers discontinue our employment and we cannot earn anything for months. We want paid pregnancy leave and four days off every month. We are a vital part of every household. Without us, the households will be dysfunctional. Yet we are at the receiving end,” said Bibha Naskar (38), president of the Samity.
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