At its 31st Session (1948), the International Labour Conference adopted a resolution concerning the conditions of employment of domestic workers - what happened since?...action is needed!
Already grouping over one hundred million workers worldwide, the largely female domestic labour force is continuing to grow in line with the rising demand for these services. Whilst contributing to improving the quality of life and living standards of others, domestic workers themselves remain confined within an invisible and very poorly protected segment of the labour market. Although a vital link in the economic chain, they are often deprived of their basic rights and confronted with exploitation and ill-treatment.
Calling on its affiliates to rally to the cause, the International Trade Union Organisation is urging the countries represented on the ILO Governing Body to support the proposal to draw up an International Convention specifically to protect domestic workers.
Excessive working hours, low wages, inadequate or no social security, sexual harassment, physical abuse, unscrupulous employment agencies, no trade union rights, forced labour… the inventory of abuses drawn up in the document to be submitted to the members of the ILO Governing Body, which will meet in Geneva from 6 to 20 March, highlights the cruel lack of decent work among this category of particularly vulnerable workers, often excluded from national labour legislations and, until now, ignored by international law.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has published several testimonies regarding the organisation of domestic workers, as well as a video on domestic workers released by ILO-ACTRAV (in French). See here
The Internation Union of Food workers (IUF) and its international network ‘Respect and Rights for Domestic/Household Workers’ fully supports this renewed call of the ITUC.
Last November the Governing Body had on their agenda the item to start the standard setting procedure for a convention on domestic work at the International Labour Conference of 2010. This decisions is postponed to the meeting of March 2008.
If is most improtant to be aware who from the government and/or trade union of your country is in the Governing Body of the ILO, to inform them about the importance of protective standards for domestic workers.
Domestic workers have become a political concern of the international trade unions and many national trade unions, which increase the possibility to cooperate with the organisations of the domestic workers. When domestic workers want to represent themselves, they have to grow into the unions and grasp this moment of attention and support.
The same supportive attitude is to find at several departments of the ILO. The projects and researches of the ILO are a great support to the struggle of domestic workers to obtain their labour rights.
To inform and influence the representatives of the Governing Body of the ILO, from the governments and the trade unions, is most important in the coming period. A joint task for all in the network to secure RESPECT and RIGHTS FOR DOMESTIC WORKERS!
Read the proposals (PDF) for domestic workers (numbers 49 to 60) that were left to be examined in greater depth, if possible for decision, at its 301st Session (March 2008).
List of members of the Governing Body (PDF)
Network on domestic work