Decent work, decent life for domestic workers
Training Material, Guides, Organizing/Educational Materials
It is my pleasure to provide you with this ITUC Action Guide on “decent work, decent life for domestic workers”.
Domestic workers are almost always women, often migrants and children. Despite the fact that it is one of the oldest and most important occupations for millions of women around the world, domestic work is undervalued and in many countries falls outside the scope of labour legislation.
Too often, domestic workers have no guarantee of a minimum wage or social protection and their rights to form and join a trade union and to bargain in a collective way are violated. As a result many of them are overworked, underpaid, and cases of maltreatment and abuse, especially of live-in and migrant domestic workers, are countless.
Yet in today’s society, domestic work is vital for the economy outside of the household to function. The current levels of growth and welfare would not be the same without the contribution of domestic workers. In particular over the last two decades, the demand for domestic work has been on the rise everywhere. The massive incorporation of women in the labour force, the ageing of societies, the intensification of work and the lack and inadequacy of public policy to facilitate the reconciliation of family life and work clearly underpin this trend.
In the past, several attempts were made at the ILO to improve the conditions of domestic workers. First in 1948, a resolution was adopted on their conditions of employment. Then in 1965, another resolution calling for normative action in this area was adopted but never implemented. In 1970 the first survey ever published on the status of domestic workers across the world made its appearance. But it is only this year, in 2010, that negotiations for an international standard on decent work for domestic workers were initiated.
Next June, the negotiations should be finalized and an ILO Convention supplemented by a Recommendation adopted. This will be an historical moment, an important step on the road to social justice for this often “forgotten” category of workers. Working hard toward the adoption, ratification and implementation of a strong international instrument for domestic workers represents a unique opportunity to change the lives of these millions of women who are singularly in need of our support.
This ITUC Action Guide aims to provide you with useful information on how trade unions can work for and with domestic workers toward the ILC 2011 and beyond. I am particularly thankful to the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers Associations (IUF) who has helped us in putting this information together. Their experience in organising domestic workers has been and continues to be of great value to the international trade union movement.
Implicitly, this Guide requests you to take action in order to restore domestic workers’ rights and dignity. I know you will hear this plea. Time has come for a decent work and decent life for domestic workers!
ITUC General Secretary