Opposition faced by Domestic Workers Sector Skill Council ( DWSSC ) : Domestic Workers demanding inclusion of minimum wages and resumption of Domestic Workers Welfare Board ( MDWWB )

Domestic Workers Sector Skill Council (DWSSC) set up to train household labour has met with opposition due to the non-inclusion of minimum wages or resumption of MDWWB.

The central government’s initiative for domestic helps in the National Skill Development Mission (NSDM) could be termed inclusive with the setting up of Domestic Workers Sector Skill Council (DWSSC) for developing their skills. But, activists in the city have criticised the Centre’s effort as basic issues such as passing an act to ensure minimum wages for domestic workers and resumption of the tripartite body Maharashtra Domestic Workers Welfare Board (MDWWB) — are still pending.

This opposition came after minister of state for skill development and entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy announced that the government had approved the functioning of DWSSC, which would train the country’s domestic workers for specialized jobs such as elderly and child care. But, activists have demanded provision of the basic right to minimum wages, ratification of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 189 on decent work for domestic helps and continuation of MDWWB — the tripartite body of government, employers and activists that has been in-operational since 2014.

Explaining the logistics of the training programme, Amol Kanth, chairman of DWSSC said “The body has started working with a consortium that includes a number of top training organisations, the ILO and the government, among other bodies. International agencies like London Academy of Housekeeping will also be involved in this, which would facilitate permits to work abroad.” He also added that the modular employable scheme, implemented by the Centre would be later subsumed in the DWSSC.

Kiran Moghe of the All India Democratic Women Association said, “The draft for a minimum wages act was prepared four years ago, but nothing has been done about it. This training is just an attempt to cover up other grave issues concerning domestic helps. The government has still not ratified ILO Convention 189 as our legislation does not fulfil many of the requirements to be part of it.”

When asked about the role that MDWWB would assume once the DWSSC starts functioning, Kanth said, “We will be working with the MDWWB and have also selected 19 applications for training agencies. Three dedicated training programmes will begin, including housekeeping, cooking, elderly and child care. Eligibility criteria and application forms will soon be available on the National Skill Development Corporation’s (NSDC) website.”

Rupa Kulkarni, president of the Vidarbha Molkarin Sanghatana, who was also a member of MDWWB, said, “Since the tenure of MDWWB ended in 2014, it has been functioning as a one-member body, which should have been a temporary provision. Additional charge of heading the body has been given to the development commissioner of the unorganized sector. Since 2014, despite of repeated requests to chief minister Devendra Fadanavis, the government has been inactive. During MDWWB’s functioning, several schemes like maternity benefits, scholarship for children of domestic helps and accident insurance were implemented.”

A junior officer said, on condition of anonymity, “Although many schemes undertaken by the tripartite commission have stopped functioning, claims under some of them have been settled by the body.” Despite several attempts by Mirror, the development commissioner was unavailable for comment.

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