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Paying your domestic help, BMTC strike, and the minimum wage scandal

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A question for you. Did you give your domestic help(s) a day off on Gandhi Jayanti? If not, then did you give them (domestic help, apartment security, etc) double the usual pay for working on a National Holiday?

BMTC employees went on a strike mainly to protest low wages. They probably did so because they can! They work for a monopoly, and their absence would be noticed, and grouse discussed across Kannada as well as English newspapers. Your maid can't. Those security guards employed by large office buildings can't. Temporary wage workers at construction sites can't. Because they just can't get  together to plan a thing like this. And, supposedly, the "market forces" are against them - there probably is an unending supply of daily wage labour, or "unorganized sector" workers.

Attached below are minimum wage guidelines from Government of Karnataka, for 2012-2013. Have also attached the same document from 2011-2012 as well, so that you can see how they "upgrade" the numbers year on year.

See section 22, domestic workers.

  • Daily wage, if your maid isn't watching your kids too, Rs 165.58 / day. A month is to be taken as 26 days. Rs 4316. If you employ such help on full day basis, do you pay higher than this amount?
  • Increase from 2011-12 to 2012-13 is 149.89 to 165.58. Just about 10%. Hope you hiked your help's salary by that much.

Our domestic help situation may not be as bad. Go to section 60, Shops and Commercial Establishments. Look at the last item (row 9 on page 172 of 2012-2013 document)

  • Office boy/peon/watchman/attender: BBMP zone pay is Rs 4958 / month
  • Now, see if you can find you how much the security guard at your neighborhood office building, commercial complex or mall gets every month.

3000-4000 per month at max. On paper, the "agency" that places "them" is likely to be getting a number above the minimum wage. The "agency" takes a "cut" every month, and the money in the hands of the worker is almost always lower than the numbers in these annual minimum wage circulars.

What are your thoughts on the situation? Is this minimum wage thing enforce-able? And before that, how should these minimum wages be fixed - shouldn't the numbers be lot higher for urban areas like Bengaluru?

 

Karnataka Minimum Wage 2012-13

 

Karnataka Minimum Wage 2011-12

Comments

psaram42's picture

Organized sectors

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Perhaps organized sectors can fight better. Even domestic help keep negotiating individually for hikes from time to time. All of us can vouch for the domestic help travails.

It is always dual way traffic, is it not? The actual salary settles at the equilibrium point. The hike should truly reflect the inflation. There is no pension for this domestic help sector. The day’s salary is inclusive of savings for the old age pension. 

Domestic help also needs holidays which are negotiable. The equilibrium of course depends on demand and supply, like water finding its own level.

dvsquare's picture

We should do something about it and we can surely

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I would advise taking this to social network level to make our conscious citizens aware.

Let SWM stuff settle in, let people are used to waste segregation.

And then we can make this issue prominent on social networks sites. We can request the same very people who are very much on the FB for waste segregation, mostly the housewives acting as SWM leader in their apartments or resident area etc, to understand this issue and provide a better pay and facilities for domestic help. And this way we can take this further.

I do the same and update on FB, others also do and update, and can be propaged to many other residential association and apartment complexes.

What's say?

This is indeed a very touching issue, and I have always felt bad for the sorry state of the domestic help in general. But at the same time, I have also heard about the monopoly or their-own-way-of-doing-it many times, troubling the people who hired them.

We have to make sure we address both the situations.

 

silkboard's picture

plus, awareness about rs bima yojana etc?

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DVS, wanted to share one thought first. Domestic helps, helpers at restaurants, the 'security' folks, construction workers and more - how compliant are their employers with the prescribed minimum wages? On the other hand, if you were to enforce minimum wages all around, wouldn't that makes good and services expensive for us?

The second thought is about domestic helps. Beyond the minimum wage thing, what government benefits are available to them that not everyone may be making use of? For example, do we know enough to help people we can on:

  • Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana. Health insurance for unroganized sector workers - Rs 30000 of coverage at Rs 30 per annum payment per family
  • Programs under National Social Assistance Program (NSAP). Old age pension scheme (IGNOAPS) may be useful tip for many.
  • Any assistance available for education, beyond the government schools?

May be just listing all such things that we can help people around with (with just information) could be a useful exercise before we start an FB page or something for wider reach.

 

 

dvsquare's picture

@SB, On the other hand, if

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@SB,

On the other hand, if you were to enforce minimum wages all around, wouldn't that makes good and services expensive for us?

I have a different take on this one. If minimum wages are enforced, I know goods and services will be expensive, but then I feel, they were meat to be. Getting someone worked and not paid fully, and we feel the standard cost for that service or good, isn't that wrong? If we deep dive into this thought, I would actually say that - it might not increase the cost that much, you know what, because in most of the cases today, such goods and services are anyway high priced but the people at the bottom of the chain doesn't get how much they deserve. Take the case of any handicraft or any other good decoration pieces we see in the malls, shops etc etc, they look very beautiful, they are very expensive, but do we know, how much the on-the-ground worker being involved in the chain must be earning. Same is the case with the high-rise buildings or villas.

The reason is simple - we don't give enough weightage to hard labour or physical labour, which I don't think is totally right. Merit/browny-points can be given to the mental work, but physical work also deserves more than what it is in present state.

To your first point -

Domestic helps, helpers at restaurants, the 'security' folks, construction workers and more - how compliant are their employers with the prescribed minimum wages?

I feel, employers are not compliant, atleast 99% are not.

I always had a feel about the service charges in the restaurant, now a days almost all the restaurants have started this 10% service charge fashion regardless of their service being good or bad or worse. Earlier, only a few restaurants used to charge service charge for table more than 6. And generally we used to give tips for the waiters, and other workers in that restaurant. Now a days, I am really not sure, when mostly the service charge being collected, where does that go? Do the owners or managers of the restaurant actually divide that and distribute that to their waiters and people doing all the day most hard work non-stop? I really want to know this, any idea, how can we find this out, through some governing authority on these restaurants about these charges? Will consumer and food authority will be one to talk to? Please comments if any one have any idea on this one?

Deepak

 

murali772's picture

surrender of moral authority

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96 users have liked.

Domestic helps, helpers at restaurants, the 'security' folks, construction workers and more - how compliant are their employers with the prescribed minimum wages?

When the government itself is the biggest defaulter on this score (check this), with what authority can it enforce rules?
 

Muralidhar Rao
silkboard's picture

so, if there are "labour inspectors" ...

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94 users have liked.

So, since there is a published regulation on minimum wages, there would be a few "inspectors" to check or enforce. And if they exist, they must be getting paid off, and should be good targets for Lokayukta then.

On the other hand, while BMTC employees could 'afford' a strike to highlight their labour issues (not passing judgement on whether they had a valid grouse or not), does the unorganized sector have a "window" to go and complain?

Even if the place to go complain exists, I am sure nobody would for the fear of getting packed or hacked. But still, good to know if the mechanism is in place, and if its getting used at all.

dvsquare's picture

Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) - Citizen matter's article

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Citizen matters article about Health Insurance to Domestic Help.

The state Labour Department is the nodal agency in Karnataka. The Domestic Workers Rights Collective (DWRC) is working with them to register workers for the scheme. DWRC is reaching out to all RWAs (especially those in apartments) for support.

Geeta Menon from DWRC requests RWAs to get in touch with the NGO Stree Jagruti Samiti, Ph: 2273 4956 (11-2 pm) or Lavanya: 99000 11515 so DWRC can put up a stall on a given date, at the apartment for data collection.

Deepak

dvsquare's picture

AAP event on 20th jan about finding such people (daily wages)

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SB,

Here is one FB event on 20th Jan 2013.

https://www.facebook.com/...

Govt of India has a scheme under which daily wage labourers are entitled for insurance, healthcare, education for their children and other benefits. However, Karnataka government returns a large portion of the fund under their quota to the central government under the pretext that they could not find such labours and their families.
Also, it could not be said that the whatever little money spent by the state govt under this scheme is done judiciously.

We, the members of Aam Aadmi Party and other civil society members have initiated a drive under which we are collecting the information of such labours and their staying place (cant be called a house), mostly shanties. We plan to gather the information and take it to the concerned government authorities so that they can be given the benefits under the scheme.

We request all to join us in this initiative. The details is as below:

Date: January 20th, 2013
Time: 06:45 AM
Place of assembly: Bharat Petrol Bunk, Kalkere Main Road, Ramamurthy Nagar, Bangalore

Contact Volunteers:
Ravi Babu: +91 998 6043 315
Gupteshwar: +91 903 5158 002
Rohit Ranjan: +91 782 9023 322

 

Bangalore is Mine's picture

3 meetings scheduled for 20th Jan, so far

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So technically, we now have 3 gatherings to attend this Sunday, Jan 20th.

  1. Collection drive of Labour details by Aam Aadmi Party at 6:45 AM (Ramamurthy Nagar)
  2. Shramdhan, booth inauguration for Ashwin Mahesh campaign , along with road cleaning activity at 10:00 AM (HSR Layout)
  3. Protest meet at EWS quarters, Koramangala tp protest eviction and land grabbing. Time unknown.

I will be prioritizing which to attend soon.

abidpqa's picture

define work

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The minimum wage act describes title of the work, but does not define it, so the work expected can be interpreted at the whim of the employer.  What is the work expected from a garment factory worker? 2 shirts or 10 shirts. Some one washing clothes, 10 clothes or 50 clothes. Call center worker, 5 calls an hour or 20 calls an hour. The work should be defined precisely with the wages. Only then, a worker can determine if he is being exploited. This requires working of labor department and managements with unions and worker associations.  The lack of definition is being misused by the employers to confuse the workers. In the case of BMTC for example, the definition can include type of bus, traffic conditions, working hours, distance from home to depot, etc.

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