Domestic workers have complained of being shunned by State authorities including the Labour and Trade Union Relations Ministry over their push for legal protection to be afforded to domestic workers.
The Domestic Workers Union (DWU) seeks amendments to the National Minimum Wage of Workers Act, No. 3 of 2016 and the Wages Boards Ordinance. The Act which set Rs 10,000 as the minimum wage for all workers, however in Section 14 which also deals with the interpretation of a worker, explicitly holds that the provisions of the Act does not include “a domestic servant.” and thus the domestic worker is excluded. Also, Sri Lanka has yet to ratify the International Labour Organization Convention 189 concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers. Joint Secretary of the DWU, Ananthi Sivasubramaniam pointed out that since the Government did not accept the domestic worker as a labourer or worker, whatever issues faced by domestic workers cannot be addressed. Even though the DWU has filed several such cases before the Department of Labour, the Department says they cannot intervene as domestic workers aren’t recognized by law as part of the labour force.
“There is no governmental plan or mechanism to bring amendments to the said Act, even though it was promised by Minister Seneviratne in Parliament during a speech,” she said.
She explained that although nothing could be done in this day and age with Rs 10,000, it was however an essential initial step towards acceptance, from which they could then lobby for further demands.