No Work, No Pay: Noida Domestic Helps Left to Fend for Themselves
Domestic helps in Noida’s Nithari say they’ve not been paid since the lockdown was imposed in March.
Video Editor: Vivek Gupta
“If nothing else, all three of us will just drink water and starve to death,” laments Archana Haldar, as she looks out from her one-room residence in Noida’s Nithari village. Working as a domestic help across several societies, Haldar had arrived in the city from West Bengal’s Malda district just a month before the lockdown was imposed in March.
With massive restrictions on movement of people, coupled by restrictions on entry of outsiders within gated societies, Haldar stopped going for work in the five households that had employed her. She has neither been paid nor called back by any of her employers since April.
Haldar and her husband had left their native village with their 17-year-old son, hoping to earn enough money to get him medical treatmen. In the process, the couple had to leave their 12-year-old daughter behind, under the care of her grandmother in Malda.
“We came here hoping to earn some money for my son’s treatment. He has a medical problem and has to undergo surgery. My husband has a fracture in the hip, he can’t do heavy work. We are completely stuck here.”Archana Haldar, Domestic Help
But Haldar cannot go back to her native place and will have to borrow money to pay her rent. For now, the family relies on food provided by others.
“I don't even have Rs 100 with me now. I eat whatever people give us. We ate some puri that we got from the temple. Now, they've stopped giving food at the temple. We are just sitting at home. At 8 pm, a man distributes food on the road. I will go and get it,” she says.
Haldar isn’t alone. Sharing the misery with her are many other domestic helps in Nithari, who, too, have not been paid by their employers. With no word or pay from their employers, how will the women of Nithari survive this pandemic?
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