My name is Lokkhi Mondol; I am 37 years old. I earn Rs 6000 ($78) a month. I have an unmarried daughter at home, she is unwell. My husband works as a caretaker. Our household runs on both our earnings.
Several women have lost their jobs, or are not being paid salaries, as they are not allowed to come to work. Almost all the women I know share the same plight.
It’s not our fault. When they refuse to pay us, we can do nothing about it; we can’t go to their homes and take our salaries by force, right?
These people with steady jobs, they have money in the bank. We survive by working in their homes, if they refuse to pay us, how will our homes run?
They are telling us right to our faces “We won’t pay.” My sister has been sacked from one household. They have said we will neither keep you, nor pay you.
Every family has two to three kids, four to five members. If we don’t get paid, how will we manage?
Anonymous resident of Rongkol basti [slum], domestic worker
We are workers. If the babus/bosses can sit at home and get paid, it is right that we should get paid, too. The government and corporations are paying their salaries. We are employees in their homes, why should we not get paid?
They say: “Why should we pay when you are sitting at home?” But what about them, they aren’t going to work, either. How come they are getting paid? They pay us so little and they have so much.
I have been without work the whole month. Where do we go with our little children?
What will happen to us?
We are asking the babus [employers/bosses] for help, for a loan, promising to repay it over time. But they don’t even agree to that. I have been calling them; when they see it’s me they won’t pick up the phone. In my family of five, I am the sole earning member—if I am not paid, how will we live?
Here’s what I think: If they are not paying us, the government and their companies should not pay them, either.
By the way, the government is doing nothing for the poor. It says we are giving you food (through the Public Distribution System). But we are allotted only five kilos of rice twice a month; it is not enough for us.
We don’t just want our jobs back, we want our jobs to be secure.
All of us women here [domestic workers, who live in this slum] want a union. If we speak as individuals, they will not listen.
Once we have a union, we can go to our employers as part of the union and demand, not request, our salaries.