COVID-19 jitters in families keep house helps at bay

Most workers worried, say families bearing brunt of loss of pay

With the COVID sword hanging over their heads, several house helps across the city are worried about their job security irrespective of the lockdown status. However, a majority of them believe that the current situation is significantly better than the lockdown in 2020.

Savitri Devi from Shahdara’s Nand Nagri said two of her employers had told her not to come for work during last year’s lockdown. “But this year, only one of them has refused me. In the other house, I clean utensils in the gallery and water the plants as my employer doesn’t ask me to work inside the house. She has not cut my salary, but I am bearing the loss of not working in the other house,” she said.

Rita from West Bengal, who stays in Seemapuri here, said all the three households where she worked have asked her not to come, and only one of them is still paying her salary.

“My husband works in a small factory, due to which we were able to manage food and daily requirements. But the loss of pay is affecting my children’s needs. I hope they call me back soon. Till the time the virus is here, I don’t feel secure,” she said.

Simran, a 19-year-old resident of west Delhi’s Sudhamapuri, and her mother used to work in six houses. She said three of the houses didn’t call them for two weeks when the pandemic was at its peak.

“Barring two weeks, all employers called us and there was no monetary issue. However, due to COVID, the treatment has changed. I understand everyone is scared but people from our strata have been least affected by COVID then why treat us like untouchables,” she said.

‘Spending time at home’

For 20-year-old Jyoti, who lost work at two households, the lockdown is like a vacation. “Now, I am used to this. Till the time COVID exists, people may or may not call us. I hadn’t spent time with my grandmother in our village in Unnao and now I am here using this time in the best way possible,” she said over the phone.

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