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News: Domestic workers’ congress begins in SA

News: Domestic workers’ congress begins in SA

by IDWFED published Nov 16, 2018 01:00 PM
Contributors: Md Owasim Uddin Bhuyan | Media New Age
Bangladeshi activists to push for protection of domestic workers



The global congress of the International Domestic Workers Federation began in Cape Town of South Africa on Friday with a call to address discrimination against domestic workers and protect them with developing rights-based framework.

IDWF president Myrtle Witbooi, also a South African Labour activist, in her opening address at the four-day-long congress said,

‘I am so happy to address you all on this momentous occasion — the second Congress of the IDWF. I say it is momentous because what we have achieved together over the past 12 years is something we could only have dreamed of before we started on our journey towards the formation of our global federation.’

‘We are the children of so-called kitchen-girls and garden-boys, born into poverty, lacking good education and without opportunities to uplift ourselves and our families. But we found a way. Despite being told that domestic workers could not organise, we did it. We came together to organise and to fight for recognition and rights as workers like all other workers,’ she added.

Marking its fifth founding anniversary, the IDWF organised the second congress where over 200 advocates for rights of domestic workers, migrants as well as academics and trade unionists were taking part from IDWF’s 69 affiliated organisations from 55 different countries, according to a press release.

They gathered to discuss the challenges for domestic workers and to consult on strategies and solutions.
A Bangladesh team, comprising leaders of domestic workers and unionists, has joined the global congress with support of Solidarity Center in Bangladesh with demands to ensure equal rights and due recognition of the jobs of domestic workers.

National Domestic Woman Workers’ Union president Amena Begum and general secretary Murshida Akhter Nahar were in the Bangladesh team led by American Solidarity Centre’s Bangladesh office senior programme officer Lily Gomes.

Murshida Akhter before her departure for South Africa told New Age that they would raise the issue of ratification of ILO convention 189 (domestic workers convention) and would ask the member countries to press the Bangladesh government to ratify the convention.

She urged the government to implement the labour policy as early as possible and to bring all domestic workers under the purview of Labour Law.

There are more than 67 million domestic workers worldwide: cleaners, cooks, caregivers for children, the elderly, and the disabled, as well as others employed in homes. This number is growing rapidly to meet the global ‘care gap’, as need for care givers increases with fewer family members able to stay at home and forego employment, combined with longer life expectancies for the infirm and elderly. Yet, domestic work is routinely undervalued and most domestic workers do not have the same labour protections as other workers.

According to Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, over 7.77 lakh female workers have taken overseas jobs since 1991. About 98 per cent of them were employed as domestic workers, said BMET officials.

Source: Domestic workers’ congress begins in SA | Media New Age

Story Type: News

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