A large number of domestic workers from Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Chengalpattu came together in smaller groups in their respective areas to highlight their plight because of the COVID-19 lockdown over the past five months.
Alleging that the government had largely been indifferent to their sufferings, the workers appealed to the government to have a formal dialogue with them on the issue. They demanded ₹10,000 as compensation to each worker and free bus passes for the next few months for them to commute to work.
Sujata Mody, president of Penn Thozhilalargal Sangam (PTS), which coordinated the protest, said of 6,000-odd members, roughly 80%-90% did not have a job for the past five months. “Our rough estimates show that each of them have lost at least ₹7,000 a month from their regular earnings. This means unpaid rent, unpaid loans and other such burden for them,” she said.
Although related restrictions had been relaxed, lack of transport and stigma and fear about the spread of the disease had made it difficult for these workers to continue their employment. Sadly domestic workers had been missing from the discussions on the impact of COVID-19, she said.