2012 June 16 – International Domestic Workers Day celebrations and actions around the world

The first ever International Domestic Workers’ Day was celebrated on June 16 in countries in every continent– in Canada, Peru, South Africa, India, Belgium, and so on. Over 50 organizations of domestic workers, trade unions and other civil society groups across the world held activities.


The first ever International Domestic Workers’ Day was celebrated on June 16 in countries in every continent– in Canada, Peru, South Africa, India, Belgium, and so on. Over 50 organizations of domestic workers, trade unions and other civil society groups across the world held activities.

Here are some highlights from the Day:

  • The IDW Day logo was very widely used: in some places such as Turkey, it was modified to give a local flavour.
  • There was an important step forward in our ratification campaign: the Minister of Labour for Belgium, Madame Monica De Coninck, announced that she will push for her country to become the second one to ratify C189, the ILO Convention for decent work for domestic workers.
  • A Government recognized the IDW Day: the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, issued a statement in support. She ended by saying, “In saluting you on this day, I recognize all our domestic workers – men and women, at home and abroad, who are doing their part in nation-building by allowing others to aspire and achieve, while often putting a strain on your own families and life choices”.
  • A new domestic workers’ union was born: the Progressive Labor Union of Domestic Workers now attempts to unite all Filipino domestic workers’ unions and other organizations in Hong Kong.
  • It was a day of unity:  in Lima, Peru, the two largest domestic workers’ unions, SINTTRAHOL and SINTRAHOGARP, marched together.
  • There were large mobilizations of domestic workers:  in both Kenya and India, over one thousand domestic workers marched to demand ratification of C189 by their Government.

Here are some more activities around the world:

  • In Bangladesh, large number of domestic workers and supporters organized a human chain in Dhaka. (See photos here)
  • In Benin, Syndicat des Employes d’hotel de Maison (SYNEHM, Hotel and House Workers Union) in Benin organized seminar and press conference to celebrate International Domestic Workers Day on 14 to 16 June 2012. Raimi Fataou, General Secretary of SYNEHM, at this press conference in Cotonou, manifested the International Domestic Workers Day. It was reported in several newspaper as well as national television. Later on 7 July, in a domestic workers’ activity in Parakou, the press conference was reported. The participants discussed the rights and duties of citizens in the workplace. . (Read more here) (See photos here)
  • In Bolivia, the vice minister of labour Carla Trino organized a workshop with ILO and the National Federation of Domestic Workers (FENATRAHOB) to discuss C189 and to safeguard the rights of domestic workers.(Read more here)
  • In Canada, the Workers Federation of Quebec, “Federation Des Travailleurs Et Travailleuses Du Quebec” (FTQ), demanded for ratification of C189 and to protect domestic workers in the Act of work accidents and occupational diseases. (Read more here) The Migrante-BC launched the Campaign for the Rights and Welfare of Temporary Foreign Workers which constitutes the Live in Caregiver Program. (Read more here)
  • In Germany, the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) held its annual workshop and general assembly in Brussels last weekend.  With over 100 people involved in the two days of discussion the PICUM was able to draw on the experiences of groups working with undocumented migrants in 20 countries. (Read more here)
  • In Ghana, with singings and high morale, the GTUC, Ghana Trade Union Congress, and domestic workers celebrated the International Domestic Workers Day on 16 June at GTUC Hall in Accra. They called for the government to become the first African country to ratify ILO Convention 189 and to shorten the working hours of domestic workers from 05:00 a.m. – 09:00 p.m. to 09:00 a.m. – 05:00 p.m. (see photos here)
  • In Hong Kong, migrant and local domestic workers of the Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions (FADWU) organized a press conference calling Hong Kong government to protect domestic workers from excessive agency fee, provide social protection as stated in ILO Convention 189. A booth with exhibition board was set up and to show video clip in Charter Garden, Central. (see photos here)

FADWU Intl DW Day 2012-6

  • A new domestic workers’ union was also born on 17 June: the Progressive Labor Union of Domestic Workers (PLUDW-HK) now attempts to unite all Filipino domestic workers’ unions and other organizations in Hong Kong.
  • Migrant workers’ groups, AMCB (Asian Migrants Coordinating Body), organized a rally to Central government office to demand for ratification of ILO Convention 189.
  • In India, FES organized on 16 and 18 June two connected activities  with a round-table on Convention 189 followed by a workshop with trade union functionaries engaged with domestic workers. The affiliates of National Centre for Labour [NCL] held public meetings and process to generate awareness about ILO Convention 189.
  • The HMS organized a public awareness meeting of 200 domestic workers at the railway station of Kota. They also asked the passerbys to sign on a big chat of memorandum to demand the government to ratify C189. (Read more here)
  • Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) union successfully mobilized 300 domestic workers to undertake a rally stressing upon their rights to: 1. Better working conditions; 2. Better wages; 3. 24 hours of consecutive rest in a week. The rally acted as a platform for domestic workers to have ‘Decent Work for Domestic Workers’.
  • SEWA Kerala organized a ‘human chain’ in front of the Secretariat of Kerala on 16 June. They demanded that the Government of India to ratify ILO C189, to set up a tripartite board for the domestic workers on the basis of Domestic workers National policy and to increase the minimum wage for Domestic workers.
  • On June 18th INTUC, SEWA and HMS- the ITUC affiliated trade unions jointly organized a workshop on the possibilities of the constitution of a legal framework and an institutional mechanism for domestic workers. Smt. P.K.Jayalekshmi, the minister for tribal welfare and youth affairs inaugurated the workshop. Labour Officials, trade unions, employers’ representatives, and workers’ representatives participated in the one day workshop. It was significant that the platform could bring together all the trade unions and Government officials to discuss the issues of domestic workers. The planning board has agreed to work on an institutional mechanism for domestic workers in the next year’s plan.
  • In Bangalore, India, the Domestic Workers Rights Union held a press conference on 16 June and a cultural program. They handed letter to the government officials of the women and child department. Street theatre was also performed.
  • In Indonesia, in Semarang, on 16 June, the newly formed Semarang Independent Domestic Workers union celebrated the Day with candle lights and a birthday cake, resembling the birth of ILO Convention C189.

In Yogjakarta, Indonesia, Tunas Mulida Domestic Workers Union, Congress of Domestic Workers (KOY) with the Network for Domestic Workers’ Protection (JPPRT) performed a theatre performed by domestic workers and a public discussion. The event aimed at promoting the role and commitment of government in the protection of domestic workers. (see the photos here)

  • In Surabaya, Indonesia, lively drama and music performance were made by domestic workers on 10 June 2012. More than 100 perople attended the performance, including the employers of domestic workers, organized by Operata Tunas Bangsa (Domestic workers organization), SA KPPD Surabaya (women’s group, member of JALA PRT) and KELOLA (artist group)
  • In South Korea, several domestic workers groups and the trade union centres organized a street campaign together. Domestic workers demand for ratification of C189, include domestic workers in the Labour Standard Act, include domestic workers in Employment Insurance Act. (read more here and here)
  • In Mozambique, workeres were chanting slogans of “Decent work for domestic workers, minimum wages and job security!”, Sisters and brothers in Mozambique campaign for ratification of C189. The National Union of Domestic Employees, Moçambique o Sindicato Nacional dos Empregados Domésticos, (SINED) organized a series of celebrations and actions. They made wreaths in Hero’s Square in Maputo. The union were not able to organize a peaceful march as planned as the Municipal Council of Maputo did not authorize the march.  (Read more here)
  • In Nepal, one day prior to 16 June International Domestic Workers Day, GEFONT has launched an Audio Album “Unwritten Signature” with the aim to bring awareness and to organize domestic workers. The audio Launched program was organized on 15 June, 2012 at the National Academy Hall of Kamaladi, Kathmandu. (Read more here)
  • On 16 June, a talk programme was jointly organized by Joint Trade Union Coordination Committee (JTUCC) Women Committee, Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS). 35 participants of domestic workers, schools’ principals and representatives from unions, laboureducation agencies and civil societies. (Read more here)
  • In Peru, domestic workers held a protest, starting from the squre in front of the Congress, they marched through the streets and tried to enter the Mayor Plaza. They strongly called upon the President Ollanta Humala to ratify C189. (Read more here)
  • In SingaporeHOME gethered over 200 domestic workers members and a few Singaporean volunteers on 17 June to place their finger prints on the statement of International Domestic Workers Day. The statement was sent to the Minister for Manpower. On a message sent to Rista (domestic workers leader) , the Indonesian ambassador for Singapore, Andri Hadi, expressed his concern. He said : ” We will continues to encourage relevant bodies for the ratification of C189, as we acknowledge the importance. Looking forward to working together for speedy ratification”
  • In South AfricaSADSAWU organized a day’s programme of domestic workers with representatives from other stakeholders. They launched a signature campaign on the ratification, distribution of pamphlets, etc..
  • In Taiwan, migrant domestic workers continues to fight for a paid week dayoff. See their International Domestic Workers Day video:
  • In Tanzania, CHODAWU organized a round table discussion with domestic workers and stakeholders followed by a press conference.
  • In Thailand, 140 domestic workers and supporters from trade unions and civil society groups celebrated International Domestic Workers Day on 16 June. It was especially encouraging as the draft ministerial regulation on protection for domestic workers was passed from Ministry of Labour (MOL) to the State Council. (see photos here)
  • In Turkey, on 15 June, IMECE Women Trade Union had a domestration in front of rich residential areas to reach domestic workers. The workers were given small gifts to express the importance of them. On 16 June, a press relase was made to inform the public about the Day. And, here domestic workers’ voice in Turkey in the video clip here.
  • In Uganda, there was a fabulous anniversary attended by Government officials, ILO Representative, domestic workers’ Employment Agencies Union officials and Domestic Workers themselves in The Grand Imperial Hotel. The ministry of Labour has drafted a cabinet paper for more protection on domestic workers. (see photos here)
  • In USA, domestic workers shared what they think about the ILO Convention 189. See the video clip here:
  • National Domestic Workers Alliance made a National Call to highlight the International Domestic Workers Day and the adoption of the C189, joined by Elizabeth Tang of the IDWN, Lita Anggraini of JALA PRT (National network for advocacy of domestic workers), Indonesia and Carmen Cruz, General Secretary of CONLACTRAHO.
  • Local activities were also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.
  • MFA, Migrant Forum in Asia, together with 60 organizations jointly issued a statement on International Domestic Workers Day. Read the statement here.

There certainly were more activities organized around the world! Share your activities on International Domestic Workers Day with us: here.

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