This booklet is based on a two-year study of domestic workers conducted by faculty at Azim Premji University.
Please share it with friends and family so that more people and employers are aware that domestic workers need to be accorded their due rights and be treated with dignity.
The focus of the research is the work and lives of ‘domestic workers’ (henceforth, DW) in Bangalore, especially their struggles to form collectives as part of their attempt to transform their subjectivities from ‘servant’ to ‘worker’, and improve their life and work situations. Domestic work is precarious work constituting a large part of India’s informal economy. It exists within a political economic context signaled by rising incomes of urban middle and upper classes and the existence of a steady supply of working-class women (from mostly stigmatised castes but across all religions) ready for domestic work. It is also enabled by a cultural-ideological context signaled by the preference to engage DWs as a normalised cultural marker for upward mobility. Our research demonstrates the struggles of DWs, the dilemmas and obstacles they negotiate for their empowerment. It focuses on the collective actions of DWs in their workplaces, their families and neighborhoods, and within unions and labour-NGOs engaged in organising DWs for “formalisation” of work, demands for a ‘decent’ wage and work conditions, and innovations in the form and content of their collective rights.