Minister Manusha Nanayakkara Highlights NGOs’ Neglect of Domestic Workers’ Struggles in Sri Lanka

The Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment, Manush Nanayakkara, asserted today (15) that while numerous Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) voice concerns about migrant domestic workers, they remain silent on the challenges faced by local domestic workers employed under harsh conditions and often subjected to underpayment.

These remarks were made during the launch of the third phase of the “Garu Saru” initiative, a groundbreaking program aimed at enhancing the safety and dignity of informal sector workers across the country. This phase began with a significant and exclusive public consultation session focused solely on engaging Domestic Workers, a crucial and often underrepresented segment of the informal sector.

This targeted approach underscores the government’s unwavering commitment to understanding and addressing the unique perspectives and challenges faced by this essential workforce. The event brought together Domestic Workers from diverse backgrounds for an interactive and engaging session with Labour and Foreign Employment Minister Manusha Nanayakkara. During this discussion, Domestic Workers openly shared their concerns, insights, and aspirations regarding the improvement of professionalism within their field.

The meeting served as a platform for these workers to voice their specific needs and challenges, fostering a collaborative environment for dialogue and collective problem-solving.

Referring to the behavior of certain NGOs, he noted, “Numerous non-governmental organizations are raising their voices to highlight the harassment and hardships faced by our migrant domestic workers. However, scant attention is paid to the plight of those within our own borders. Some individuals toil for years without receiving any salary, and there have been instances of sudden dismissal. Others are subjected to meager salaries, typically around Rs 6000 or Rs 7000 per month, which I consider a form of exploitation.”

The Minister acknowledged that the concerns of domestic workers in Sri Lanka often go unnoticed and assured that under the ‘Garu Saru’ program, the concerns of domestic workers will be addressed. Highlighting the absence of a dedicated association for domestic workers, Minister Nanayakkara emphasized that the consultation was organized to enhance professionalism in this sector, enabling domestic workers to have a say in determining their future.

“There is currently no association dedicated to the welfare and promotion of professionalism among domestic workers. That’s why we have decided to hold this consultation. The sole purpose of this event is to enhance their professionalism and allow them to determine what is best for themselves.

He pointed out that the Government aims to provide social security benefits, skills development programs, and occupational health and safety training to those employed in the informal sector, emphasizing their safety and well-being during retirement years. “The Government’s goal is to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone during their retirement years,” he said.