Sri Lanka: Domestic Workers Union Conference finalizing an action plan
- Sri Lanka: Domestic Workers Union Conference finalizing an action plan
- Domestic Workers Union had a very successful conference on the 15th April 2012. Domestic workers from Kandy, Maskeliya, Hatton, Tallawakela and Hunnasgiriya participated at this conference. In addition, ten tea plantation workers and five garment factory workers also attended to extend their solidarity.
- Apr 15, 2012 (Universal / UTC0)
- Sri Lanka
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SRI LANKA -
Domestic Workers Union had a very successful conference on the 15th April 2012.
Domestic workers from Kandy, Maskeliya, Hatton, Tallawakela and Hunnasgiriya participated at this conference.
In addition, ten tea plantation workers and five garment factory workers also attended to extend their solidarity.
Official representations from the Labour department, an Arbitrator, an Assistant Commissioner of labour and a labour officer participated while there were also three representatives from mainstream like-minded unions who all gave their solidarity.
Domestic Workers Union Conference in Sri Lanka - The conference started with the domestic workers’ song:
“Can you see how much our body is weakened?
Can you see that we even have a proper wage for our labour?
Can we see that we labour all day and night?
Where is a place for us at least to sleep or to eat?
We are manual workers – we are workers!
Let us struggle and fight for our rights!”
Domestic Workers’ Union [DWU] president and secretary Parwathy showed through their opening speech and narrative sharing that they are strong leaders and even though they did not receive formal education, they have the capacity to lead the union. Parwathy’s narrative stimulated lot of workers and the labour officers to think about the status of domestic workers.
Domestic Workers' Union President Parwathy“I was so ill. I decided to take some medicine and one full day rest. I couldn’t work. I asked two days leave from my employer. She answered ‘Ok, you can take leave not only two days but permanently, I will get another person’”.
She also mentioned that family was another obstacle for her when she was young but that time she couldn’t understand that. When Parwathy was telling her story, a lot of workers nodded their heads. After her narrative, a worker loudly said, “we also facing the same problem but we never openly talk about this”.
A solidarity speech from tea plantation worker leader encouraged the other workers to take leadership. She mentioned in her speech that, “the family is a major obstacle to women taking up leadership therefore we need to understand that and use a strategy to come out from the obstacles”.
The labour department officers, participation helped the workers to understand the labour department’s role in their issues and life. The concrete suggestion by the Asst commissioner to have a wages board for the domestic workers is a big step which unions can take up.
To finalise the days programme a Workers Action plan was taken up. There were three key aspects
- Trade union training for the domestic workers’ union committee,
- Open a trade union office – institutional identity, Identity card for all the members,
- Good Media coverage and effective lobby work for the 3rd draft on Domestic worker’s Act.