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Myths and Realities about Domestic Workers

Myths and Realities about Domestic Workers

by Meredith McBride published Jun 01, 2011 12:00 AM
What THEY Say And What WE Say - WHY DOMESTIC WORKERS NEED STRONG REGULATIONS FOR OUR RIGHTS This document sets out some of the key arguments used against us having a strongly-worded international ILO Convention and national legislation for our rights, and our responses as to why we must.

Resource Type

Research reports, working paper


Why We Wrote this document

Over the past few years, something historic has been happening.

The world’s domestic workers have been mobilising, not only in our own countries and regions but also at a global level.   Along with our supporters in the trade unions, migrant  workers’  support  networks,  anti-slavery and anti-child labour groups, etc., we are arguing for recognition for the work we do, for our rights as workers, and for our voice to be heard.

Above all we need an end to the abuse and exploitation that so many domestic workers worldwide face. One of our demands is for a strong international convention for the rights of domestic workers, to be agreed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO)  –  the  part  of  the united nations  that  is responsible for employment matters.

Meeting  in Geneva, Switzerland,  in  June  each year,  governments  of  the  world  sit  down  with representatives  of  employers  and  workers  to negotiate over and agree international employment standards. They  agree  to conventions  which are  binding  on  governments  to  implement,  and recommendations which give governments advice. in June 2010, for the first time ever, governments, employers and unions spent two weeks discussing and debating over the first draft of an ILO Convention for the rights of domestic workers, accompanied by a Recommendation.

We  listened carefully to what  they said  –  the arguments  used  for  and  against  us. many governments  and  trade  unions  –  and  some employers  –  have  come  a  long  way  and  now understand our situation better and are supporting our demands. But some are still very hostile. Others only want standards which are far too weak. it often seems that they do not understand, or want to deny, how bad it is for so many of us.

So, this document sets out the key arguments they use against agreeing to a strong set of standards, and our replies to them. Our hope is that this will help win more supporters, especially at the International Labour Conference in June 2011, when the draft
convention and recommendation will be debated in-depth again – and hopefully adopted. After that, there will be much work for domestic workers  and  our  supporters  to  do.  We  will  need to  get  each  of  our  governments  to  ‘ratify’  the convention, that is to say, agree to put its contents into their national legislation, and then implement those laws properly.

So, we hope that the arguments we set out here will  help  domestic  workers  around  the  world  to persuade more people of the rightness of our cause, and win the changes in law, practice and attitudes that we so deserve. For more information, also see
the IDWN ‘Platform of demands’ available from our website.



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