On Wednesday, January 12, Harsha Vadlamani, an independent journalist, tweeted a photo of the notice in a housing society in Hyderabad that announced a fine of Rs 300 if domestic workers, delivery workers and drivers used the lifts meant for residents. The photo went viral, with many expressing their disgust at the apartment members behind the discriminatory policy. The practice was slammed by several Twitter users, with some pointing out that it could be perceived as ‘untouchability’ and that it warranted legal action under the provisions of the Protection of Civil Rights Act.
Responding to the viral photo, on Thursday, the Telangana Gig and Platform Workers’ Union (TGPWU) called upon government officials to intervene and stop such discriminatory practices. In a series of tweets, TGPWU said, “After looking at this notice it becomes evident that not just caste is the basis for untouchability, but money and the work too.”
Attaching similar discriminatory notices from restaurants that deny delivery executives access to their washrooms, TGPWU tagged Minister of Urban Development KT Rama Rao, Telangana CMO and other officials, and urged their intervention.
On Twitter, some questioned the silence of the residents who had allowed this practice to continue. “Highly discriminatory and shameful. This is structural exclusion of our most important service providers. Where is the voice of residents?” commented Suneeta Kar Dhar on Twitter.
“Maids working in the kitchen is no problem but not use the lifts? Nonsense, from whichever angle you see,” (sic) responded another person.
A few pointed out that several apartments in Hyderabad were practising this discrimination based on class. Some others tagged the Cyberabad police seeking action against the residents. “@cyberabadpolice plz act on this society which ever it is and set an example! There should be no place for such discrimination. I trust you will…” (sic) tweeted a Twitter user.
Speaking to TNM, TGPWU state president Shaik Salauddin said, “Gig workers and domestic workers are denied basic human rights like equality and fairness. These are constitutional rights, but several apartments violate them. It is indeed sad that workers are discriminated against in this manner.”
Salauddin shared that several restaurants and hotels too do not allow delivery executives to access their washrooms. “How inhuman is that?” he said.
“Discrimination against domestic workers is a reality in many places. There have been instances where the society’s president actually turned off the lift after a domestic worker was found accessing it. They tell the women to use the stairs instead,” he added.
Salauddin demanded the intervention of Minister KT Rama Rao and the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Commissioner to put an end to this discriminatory practice.