State school paid women just 22c a month to clean toilets
An Indian state government is facing contempt of court charges for refusing to compensate two "untouchable" women it paid the equivalent of just 22 cent per month as cleaners in a teacher training college.
The women, Akku and Leela, spent their working lives at the Government Women Teachers Training Institute in Udupi, Karnataka, where they cleaned 21 lavatories every day for 15 rupees a month. That was not enough for a pound of rice, which costs 20 rupees.
The women, who have now reached the retirement age of 60, joined the college aged 18 in 1971 on the promise that they would be paid 3,000 rupees per month (€45).
They were told they would be paid a token amount of 15 rupees a month until the government officially approved their appointments and then they would receive their full pay backdated to the day they joined.
When, after a year, they had still not had their jobs approved, they complained but the principal pleaded with them to stay and promised they would receive more than 60,000 rupees (€890) in back pay, but warned they would lose this if they resigned.
The following year the amount increased again and by the time the matter came to court in 2003 the judge ruled they were owed more than €16,155 each.
The state government appealed to India's Supreme Court which also backed the women's claim. But its ruling in 2010 has been ignored.