Migrant Women Workers in Construction and Domestic Work: Issues and Challenges

Sanghmitra S. Acharya and Sunita Reddy

Abstract Rural to urban migration in search of better working and living conditions is more like a mirage. The life is often harsh, pathetic, deplorable in place of destination like the Capital City Delhi, yet migration continues, as the place of origin is even more appalling where even survival is not secured. This is the story of 1010 migrant women workers in 9 districts of Delhi engaged in construction and domestic work. Largely hailing from the neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal, they have migrated during the past 40 years. About 80 % of them are Scheduled Caste, landless agricultural labourers find it difficult to survive back home and therefore migrated to Delhi with lots of dreams and aspirations. Most of them live in JJ colonies and slums. Except for acquiring a few assets, their life in Delhi is as challenging as in the place of origin, with many women working hard to meet the ends. This paper analyzes 501 construction workers, 99 % of whom are into non-mechanical work, largely head loaders, and labourers, getting paid around 150 rupees per day, much less than the minimum wages and also unequal wages, more than 52 % reporting of injustice to payments. About 71 % are living in kaccha (semi permanent) house, single-room accommodation. Only 26 % have separate toilets. 86 % are not having any creche facility, and 76 % with no place to rest. Few of them reported to have been injured and met with serious accidents and not been compensated and laid off thereby shifting to domestic work. There is urgency to provide the basic minimum facilities and better living conditions for those who form the backbone of the economic growth, be it the

5.5. Acharya (*) • S. Reddy

Center of Social Medicine and Community Health, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

5.5. Acharya

Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi, India © Springer India 2017

S.S. Acharya et al. (eds.), Marginalization in Globalizing Delhi: Issues of Land, Livelihoods and Health, DOI 10.1007/978-81-322-3583-5_11

construction sites or domestic workers. The vast informal and heterogeneous characteristics of the women workforce in India with growing informalization of employment, lack of visibility and voice of such workers call for improvement in the quality of employability and growth and extension of social protection to the unreached. This action research by the authors, further continues to provide skill building and placement for the domestic workers in collaboration with other organizations and also provide the social protection by facilitating the construction workers to register and get the benefits under the provisions of ‘The building and other construction of workers Act, 1996’ and ‘The building and other construction workers welfare Cess Act, 1996’ where hundreds of crores of rupees are stocked for their welfare, but no commitment and sensitivity so far to use this funds for the workers welfare.

Keywords Migrant women workers Domestic workers Construction workers Delhi Migration

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