The first morning the inauguration ceremony gathered several representatives, sharing their expertise and opinions on social protection and decent work for domestic workers. Mr A. Patil, Vice President of the New Trade Union Initiative, one of the central trade unions in India, highlighted that only six or seven states in India have established minimum wages for domestic workers, which are systematically lower than those for other sectors and said that the level of skills of a domestic worker should also be considered for their wages. If they for instance take care of children or elderly, aren’t they partly skilled caregivers and entitled to higher wages? Ms Sushi Ben, the ex-chairperson for the State Women Commission of Maharashtra, insisted on having a study to be able to determine what a minimum wage should be per zone and category. M Sundara Babu, also in charge of conducting the study with the WSM India partners on decent living income for construction workers, agriculture and domestic workers in 10 states, referred to the ILO Convention 189 as an important tool to establish decent working conditions and wages. He also strongly advocated advocacy should focus on decent income (allowing for a decent life) instead of a minimum wage (which allows workers just to survive). Paul Comyn from ILO Training and Skills development department talked about frameworks to provide certified training to unorganized workers and how this could influence directly their wages. Uday Bhat from the Domestic Workers Welfare Board recalled a worker who said, when she was explained the different schemes of social protection, which largely only intervened in case of disability, accident or death:”So you don’t have anything for a living, working domestic worker as support?“. And the Vice-President of NDWTUF, Ms Manda Bhunde, warned us not to underestimate them:”We may not have studied, but we understand a lot! As Modi was elected as Prime Minister by demanding a clean India, he should not forget we have been keeping its houses clean for a long time. Modi claims his mother used to clean houses, so he will listen to us“. And Sister Jeanne Devos, founder of NDWM, congratulated NDWTUF with its first anniversary, reiterating her devise:”We don’t give in, we don’t give up and we don’t grow tired!“. The Assistant State Labour Commissioner of Mumbai, Mr Sanket Kanade was a lot more moderate, but criticized Modi for attempting to attract foreign investment by broadcasting the message “Come to India where you will have no red tape, but receive a red carpet treatment“.
Next and during the past three days, the first General Council debated and discussed, changed their name from NDWTUF to NDWF, adapting and voting their constitution, registering, electing leaders and a secretariat, determining member contributions and discussing possible affiliations. At the same time, it was a learning moment, with interventions from thirteen speakers and much sharing among members regarding social protection, minimum and living wage, advocacy and lobbying methods.
https://photos.gstatic.com/media/slideshow.swf While WSM supports NDWM, ACV-CSC, the Belgian Christian confederation supports the unionizing process, specifically by the trade union Nutrition and Services, which includes household staff. Hence, a delegation from Belgium, Marc and Dirk, also came to attend and show their solidarity.