Home COMMUNITY Raheja Vista’s regressive Salary fixing circular might actually be progressive.

Raheja Vista’s regressive Salary fixing circular might actually be progressive.

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My story on Raheja Vistas “Maid rate fixing” circular.

Female empowerment starts with the under-privileged woman. The women who work as household helps never got a fair chance at education. Most of them are married early and burdened with the responsibility of children. One of the means of empowerment is to turn to household work.

The maids/cooks/helps form the backbone of the upper middle class households. They make it possible for double income family to strive and prosper. Because of the maids the upper middle class has leisure and time to meet friends or call each other for dinners or chill in a Coffee shop. The relationship between the maid and the housewife (whoever runs the house) is symbiotic. The maids are the prime reason, some elites prefer to live in India than in a developed country.

Disclaimer – The views mentioned above are of the author only. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Powai.info do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

Hyperlocal Economics – New Towers comes in

Ignorance is BlissRaheja Vihar was a peaceful neighbourhood. Then the new towers come in. One such building is Raheja Vistas which came up in 2011. The flats bought in Vistas are much more expensive, this means the neighbourhood was getting more affluent. This disturbs the delicate harmony of hyper-local economics. This affluence impacts the wages of the maids. The not so connected newer citizens pay more to hire maids.

The AwakeningThese new inhabitants blissfully unaware of high salaries learn to their horror, that they have been shortchanged. Paying more is acceptable, but being out smarted is adding insult to injury. WhatsApp messages fly, mind-maps are drawn to counter react. Raheja Vistas even has a Facebook page. It’s imperative that there should be unity because unity is power. The maids need to either work more or deal with the prospect of less pay or risk getting fired.

The society employs about 500 maids, all of whom have protested against the circular, and are planning to go on strike. The maids have complained that the circular’s rates are 10-20% less than the going rate Suman, who has been working in D wing since the last five years said, “The circular was a shock for us. Currently, I charge Rs 1000 per work and instead of giving us a raise, the employers are asking us to accept a pay cut. It’s just not acceptable.”
– via Mumbai Mirror

picture courtsey Raheja Vistas FB group

 

Months of Planning

A Raheja Vistas resident said they have been planning this for month. Her intention looked sincere. She asked me what do you think is wrong with the circular? I said the entire idea comes off not so progressive.

I told her, only some people from Raheja Vihar were defending the move, while others said that either the rates are low or the whole act is regressive.

A new paradigm in maid management

The document on first impression appears regressive, However It could be a good reference document for the new residents. Not every housewife will have her mother-in-law or her parents close-by to advise on these crucial aspect of daily life.
A lady who lives in Hiranandani said ” This could be dangerous as maids will form unions and this could spread to Hiranandani and then the entire Mumbai,”
This circular is a reference guide than an order. If you read in the fine print it states that “Acceptance/Rejection is the prerogative of each resident”.

One of the homeowners, who didn’t wish to be named said, “Every year the maids demand a hike. I have two maids at home – one is for cleaning and other is for cooking. Three years ago, I used to pay Rs 700 for cleaning and Rs 2500 for cooking plus full salary as a bonus. But the next year, my maid asked 30 per cent hike in salary and I had to do it as I had no choice.
– via Mumbai Mirror

The tone of the document is tough. But keeping in mind this was an internal circular for the locals it perfectly alright.

Some have argued that including the maids was essential as their issue is being decided. I feel as long as the State Government doesn’t recognise them and doesn’t cover them in the labour act why would the residents take the bother of organising them?

 

Current Status Quo:

As far as I know, the strike is still partial and the MNS local functionary as also shown interest in the matter. The builder has removed the notice from the gate yet some are protesting. Rumours are some maids have been blacklisted.

Update 11 am 24th MayA source has sent this whatsapp – Most of the maids are back. The MNS local functionary told them the circular rates are not binding and if the maids don’t have any issues on salary with their employers, then there is not much case to protest. He advised them that a strike would be a long term option and is not probably not neccessary. He has advised them to see how it pans out for another month or two.

What will happen?

Despite doomsday warning that maids might go on an indefinite strike or form a union I think the entire movement of organising the maid power will die down. The matter is intricate and the Vistas group were way too optimistic.

Expert Opinion

I called on Meenakshi Jain, founder of helper4u which provides maids/bai’s/cooks to anyone in Mumbai. She also lives in Raheja Vihar. .

Below are her 3 comments.

Government Recognition
Maharashtra has no law for the maids but Rajasthan and Jharkhand has passed a bill on domestic workers. Once it becomes a law maids/bai’s/cook’s will get protection.

Set Bench Mark for Minimum wage Limit The residents could have set a benchmark for the minimum wage limit, but to set a benchmark for the maximum wage limit is unfair.

Individual Contracts with the MaidsOwners can make written contracts If their intention of organising and helping the maids are sincere. This document will act as a proof for the maid in seeking work elsewhere.

Questions Raised:

Few startups tried to get into this space to get order to this chaotic sector. Instead of each individual doing a contract, the startup would make a contract with them. For the timebeing we deal with the old school of hiring.

Some questions I ask of readers –

  1. Is it time to give away with the old system of un-organised maid labour?
  2. If the maids get protection and recognition from the state, how would that change the current dynamics between the employee and the maid?
  3. Who will the winners and the losers in the organised maid labour market?

The infamous circular

 

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8 Comments

  1. Sunil M

    May 24, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Some factual corrections and a few observation for this article:

    1. There was no involvement by the local corporator. It was a MNS local functionary who tried to get involved and organised a gathering of the maids.

    2. Vistas was invited by the gentleman concerned for a dialogue with himself (in his purported capacity as the leader of the maids). Suitably ignored and had to leave the premises.

    3. The circular essentially addresses the information assymetry that prevailed in Vistas and was taken advantage of by the maids by playing one resident off against another. Employer hopping was rampant among a large section of the maids. The frequency of job hopping would put educated job hoppers to shame.

    4. Maids who chose to report to work were manhandled by the leaders of the maids to prevent them from reporting to work. The article and all other web posts are strangely silent on this fact.

    5. The said circular is back prominently on the premises. It is a private premises and there is nothing to prevent display of the circular.

    6. It’s a free world. Salaries are being offered and if the maids don’t like it, they are free to explore other options. No one has physically constrained them to work in Vistas. The law of demand and supply will rule. If the maids refuse to accept the wages offered, the resultant increase in demand for maids will take the salaries to a market clearing level. The fact that 95 percent of maids are back shows that wages are at market clearing levels or higher.

    Reply

    • Anupma Diddi

      May 24, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      Dot On!

      Reply

    • Sudha Saigal

      May 24, 2017 at 5:02 pm

      Mumbai times article claiming maids only earn Rs 5000 per month from multiple house in Vistas is a lie. Mumbai times don`st spread lies.

      Reply

  2. Sudha Saigal

    May 24, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Household Chores’ Rates
    Context:
    Vistas, a Huge complex, comprising of 10, occupied, 20-storey towers had a problem- disparity in household chores’ rates because of lack of information. While some occupants in the complex were paying Rs 700/-, 800/-, 900/- for one particular chore, a new resident, within the complex, in the adjacent tower was asked to shell out anything between Rs 1200/- to Rs 1500/- for the same job!
    Every fortnight, someone or the other discovered that they were being misled by domestic workers who were trying to make quick money by taking advantage of the fact that the new residents would not find out the rates too soon.
    Solution:
    Residents discussing the problem of steep increase in rates in the past one year, urged that like many other buildings, Vistaites too should display the information on the board. Expectation being that once the information was public knowledge there would be no scope for misinformation spreading. Also it would be a step towards some standardisation work to be expected against payment of a specific amount.
    Interestingly the rates in Vistas are the highest in a locality which has 20+ highrises, in an area less than 1 square kilometre. Also the sheet clearly stated that the rates were indicative it was the prerogative of the resident to accept/reject the same. It was binding on no one.
    Outcome:
    Hullaballo! Maids coming to work were stopped forcibly; in the forefront were disgruntled elements who wanted more money for lesser work! Ruffians too pitched in to threaten and intimidate the conscientious workers who wanted no part in this nonsense. everyone wondered why this reaction when not a single maid had been asked to leave nor was anyone’s salary reduced.
    While some questioned the ‘socialist’ approach and the criticised the inconvenience caused, there were valiant community-cause-defenders too. Maids were escorted, wherever necessary, to ensure no-one was hurt. The Hero of the day were the women who chose to take actions that meant doing the washing, cleaning, cooking themselves rather than to give in to arm-twisting tactics of inefficient,blackmailing workers propped by opportunists.
    The most heartening is the online support shown across the digital platform; it’s turned out to be a Sunday differently spent! (extract from vistas.rahejavihar )

    Reply

  3. Sudha Saigal

    May 24, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    1. Is it time to give away with the old system of un-organised maid labour? – My Tunga Village maid works in multiple houses – cooking, looking after kids – makes over Rs 30,000 per month…She is happy with the current system. Where is the issue? She has no formal education & is able to make more then our Bata Store manager downstairs getting a 15,000 per month salary gross, who comes from thane.
    2. If the maids get protection and recognition from the state, how would that change the current dynamics between the employee and the maid? – If you want to make salary contracts with full time maids then they will have to pay tax too…do they want the gross & CTC effect…where tax & other regulations will be deducted??
    3.Who will the winners and the losers in the organised maid labour market? – Both sides are winners…don`t try to make a villain hero story to get higher TRP`s for your article.

    Reply

  4. Ashita Modi

    May 24, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    I support the implementation of the rate card. It will standardize the rates. It is a great move. All my efforts are in favour of the standardization of rates for domestic help.

    Reply

  5. Sriram Srinivasan

    May 24, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    The market for the household help is considered by many to be a free market. This turned out to be fallacious in this case because the fundamental premise of a tree market is information availability. The rate card was an attempt to fix the information asymmetry since residents did not have the going rates for services. Once informed, residents and the domestic help could choose the right price based on mutual agreement.
    Do note that this was an attempt to fix the information asymmetry and was advisory in nature.

    Reply

  6. Sunil M

    May 25, 2017 at 8:13 am

    What is a fair rate is determined by the market. Unions and third party aggregation platforms are at best means to create imperfections in the market. And they add their own cost to the service which further creates imperfections. The maids were pretty well organised in terms of information flow. It was the residents who unfortunately suffered from lack of information. This step has equalised the market for both now. To encapsulate; An employer will pay only as much as he:she deems affordable and the maid will only accept what is acceptable with perfect or near perfect information.

    Reply

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