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Latin America: International Domestic Workers' Day - Re-launching the C189 Campaign

by IDWFED published Mar 30, 2012 12:00 AM
This year, domestic workers in Latin America, jointly with trade unions and other allies re-launched the C189 campaign to press governments to ratify the Convention as soon as possible to protect rights of domestic workers.



On March 30, 1988, in Bogotá, Colombia, the first Domestic Workers Congress took place and founded the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Domestic Workers (CONLACTRAHO). Since then, domestic workers in Latin America have been celebrating the March 30 as the Domestic Workers' Day of Latin America. This year, domestic workers in Latin America, jointly with trade unions and other allies re-launched the C189 campaign to press governments to ratify the Convention as soon as possible to protect rights of domestic workers.

Find here several reports from the region:

Interview with Marcelina Bautista

In an interview (Spanish language) Marcelina Bautista, Secretary General of CONLACTRAHO and IDWN Regional Coordinator and Lorenza Gutiérrez Gómez, project coordinator for indigenous women domestic workers, report on the situation of domestic workers in Latin America and the Caribbean.


In Paraguay, one of ten domestic workers lives in extreme poverty

One of each ten domestic employees lives in extreme poverty in Paraguay due to the low remuneration that she perceives, according to a source of the sector on the occasion of the International Day of Domestic Workers.

The Joint Program of Opportunities, coordinated by several state organisms, informed in an official notice sent to Efe on the situation in which the 200,000 women in the domestic work are, which represents 18 percent of the employed female workers of the country.

“One of each ten is in the situation of extreme poverty, which is mainly due to the low pays in the sector”, the source confirmed, who explained that “20 percent of the women in the domestic work use to work without retirement (who live in the houses in which they work, where they can leave only the week ends to rest) with a working time of 50 hours weekly”.

The average age of the domestic workers is 32 years, but one of each five of them does not surpass 20 years, she mentioned.

She referred, in addition, that “the domestic workers live a difficult reality” due to the “ample inequalities and discriminations in relation to the rest of the workers” of other areas, although they obtained some advances in favor of the sector in the last years.

Among those conquests, the source emphasized Paraguay's ratification of the Convention 156 on equality of opportunity between men and women, as well as the extension, in 2009, of the social insurance to the domestic workers of the entire country and not only to those of the capital, as it prevailed since 1965.

She also remembered that “it has been managed recently to agree to a first draft of a Law of the Domestic Work and comes working in the motion on ratification of Convention 189, approved by the International Labor Conference in 2011″.

The Program, created in 2008 by official institutions that take care of the subject with the support of the system of the United Nations, also mentioned the approval of a specialized office in the Ministry of Justice and Work as instance of information and mediation between the workers and the employers.

In Paraguay a union of domestic workers is associated to one of the main Workers Unions of the country works since 1989, and there are two other unions in formation.

Read this article in Spanish.



“We want the ratification now!”

by Ernestina Ochoa Lujan, Peru, Vice-Chair of IDWN

The most beautiful gift that we domestic workers can have at international level is the ratification of Convention 189 on Domestic Workers, to have just norms and laws that protect us.

Anywhere in the world humble women exist who from very young age had to work without enjoying a right pay, undergoing the worst psychological physical batterings, working many hours without being able to study, leaving their families, suffering sexual harassments, violations, in few words working like slaves.

For that reason each 30 of March we remember our sisters who are not organized and continue suffering. By them we maintain our social commitment to continue fighting, by each tear of them our voices will be heard louder until the governments of the 183 countries of the ILO ratify our convention – we will not rest, they have to acknowledge that this type of modern slavery must change. We want the ratification now!

We international domestic workers do not mark time, we are shouting and asking our governments to ratify the convention because this is a social justice. Behind each domestic worker there is a history of injustice and this must change. The gentlemen of the government also have a domestic worker at home and thanks to their work they have been able to get ahead. Behind each employer there is a domestic worker who rises at 6am and lies down at late hour in the night, who cleans him his house, takes a walk with the dog, washes the car, cooks, irons, goes to the market, takes care of the children, takes care of the old ones so that they can go to work with clean clothes, polished shoes and ironed shirt and pants.

And many say how neat the gentleman or the lady walks, but what they do not know is why the employers are so clean and well ordered, that the domestic workers spent many hours without sleeping well and with a miserable pay. And many do not receive anything, without being able to sit down at table, to have lunch in due course, or without counting on our social benefits, and even when being sick we take care of them.

By all this the domestic workers contribute to the world-wide development – but who sees this, who values our work? That's why we need the government, the workers and the employers to ratify the convention now. If not being listened, we domestic workers will have a big strike, we will have much hubbub, companions! For me now there is nothing else to wish a happy day to all domestic workers!


Domestic Workers of Latin America achieved important advances

A new International convention and diverse modifications to the national legislations, mark a new stage in the labor scene of this sector. The remunerated domestic work is one of the most numerous occupations for women in Latin America and the Caribbean. The International Labor Organization (ILO) esteems that around 14 million women exist in the continent who are dedicated to this work, i.e. 14 of each 100 workers are domestic workers. World-wide the number is approximately 52 million, being 80% women.

In spite of this, the remunerated domestic work is one of the occupations with worse quality of employment: extensive days of work, low remunerations, little cover of social security and high level of breach of labor standards.

For this reason, and for 24 years, on the occasion of the First Latin American Congress of Domestic Workers realised in Colombia in 1988, it is commemorated today, 30 of March, the International Day of Domestic Workers, a celebration which this year 2012 will be different. The past year the International Labor Conference of the ILO adopted the Convention 189 on the domestic workers, which constitutes a breakthrough in the long process of recognition of their labor rights.

This convention offers specific protection to the domestic workers. It establishes rights and basic principles, and it demands the nations to take a series of measures with the purpose to obtain that decent work becomes a reality for these workers.

Action in the Region

Since the adoption of Convention 189 in June of 2011, the ILO has supported a series of activities with the aim of promoting the Decent Work for Domestic Workers and impelling the ratification of Convention 189 in the region.

In legislative matter, for example, in Chile an agreement between the Government and the workers' organizations was signed to modify the working time of the sector and to gradually align it to that of the rest of the workers, an agreement which will be sent as draft of law to the parliament and that counts already on the support of the President of the Republic.

In Argentina, a law project on domestic work to equate rights of domestic workers with those of workers, has already been approved by the House of Representatives. To the same subject, in Paraguay, a first draft of Law of Domestic Work was elaborated, which was realized in agreement with the Convention 189, and which is in the last phase of revision before being sent to the Parliament.

In Brazil, already two projects of law in this subject were sent to the Parliament: the number 381, that will regulate the hours of work and the remuneration of extraordinary service and the number 565, which deals with safe unemployment for domestic workers, working time, remuneration for extraordinary service and rescission of the employment contract.

Concerning the advances towards the ratification of Convention 189, diverse countries have indicated their interest in ratifying this important instrument, among them: Uruguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Dominican Republic.

In the case of Uruguay, one of the countries which are in the most advanced stage - 12 of December 2011 a project of law for the ratification of this convention was sent to the parliament, which is at the moment in discussion in the National Congress.

Diverse countries of the region have been mobilized and organized workshops, tripartite meetings and campaigns of sensitization to present the importance of the adoption of this international instrument.

This mobilization has meant an additional revitalization and fortification of the workers' organizations, who, by promoting the ratification of this agreement in their respective countries, are fighting a new battle for the recognition of their rights, as it provided new steps towards the benefit of a decent work for all the workers of the region.

Read this article in Spanish.

Source: ILO Regional Program for Gender and Decent Work


Peru: Minister for Women expresses greetings to the Day of Domestic Workers

The Minister for Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP), Ana Jara Velásquez, expressed this morning her greetings and recognition to the domestic workers when commemorating the “International Day of Domestic Workers”, renewing the commitment of their sector to guard their rights.

“A greeting to the day of all domestic workers, a celebration created 17 years ago, to strong, worthy, intelligent and responsible men and women who with their effort and work make it possible that the others realize our daily work activities with the tranquility of knowing that everything at home is good”, she declared.

She informed that in Peru there are approximately more than 400,000 domestic workers, of which 96% are women and 4% are men.

The Minister ratified the commitment of her portfolio for this sector of the population, impelling laws that protect them, besides working to grant mechanisms which allow them to reach better opportunities of work.

“The Government renews the commitment of guarding the rights of domestic workers, to generate more opportunities of education for them, in the particular case of the Ministry for Women we are attentive for their complex of problems, for that the renovation of the commitment of the citizens, adults, old, youth and children is necessary to respect their rights, to treat them with respect and in equal opportunity”, she emphasized.

Read this article in Spanish.



Equal rights for Domestic Workers in Mexico

The National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination published a manual for domestic workers on the occasion of the International Day of Domestic Workers, 30 march 2012. On 26 pages it describes (in Spanish):

  • the situation of domestic workers in Mexico,
  • their discrimination,
  • the lack of decent payment,
  • the violation of workers' rights,
  • the necessity of social security and education,
  • child labour,
  • the discriminating Mexican legislation concerning domestic work,
  • the ILO Convention 189 and Recommendation 201,
  • the process of ratification and approbation of an ILO convention,
  • the world-wide campaign 12 by 12.

Download the manual in PDF.



Story Type: News

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