Now Countries Need to Ratify the New Global Domestic Workers Rule
6.17.2011 | James Parks
Across the world, working men and women celebrated the historic vote June 16 by the UN’s International Labor Organization creating a new global rule to protect domestic workers. Now the work begins to make sure countries implement the rule, known as a convention, and make protections for domestic workers a reality.
In a joint statement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Ai-Jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Worker Alliance (NDWA), said the convention “acknowledges that domestic work—work performed in or for private homes—is indeed work.”
Further, the people who perform this work—overwhelmingly women, migrants and people from historically marginalized communities—are indeed workers, and thus entitled to the same rights and protections that all other workers enjoy.
In the United States, workers joined with employers and supporters in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco to celebrate the new rule. Building on the partnership between the NDWA and the AFL-CIO, Juana Flores, co-director of Mujeres Unidas y Activas in San Francisco, said:
So many women have never been recognized for their labor. With this convention the world is recognizing, for the first time, that domestic workers are workers like any others who deserve fair and just treatment.
In California, where a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights is being considered, a statement from the California Domestic Workers Coalition labeled the convention a milestone.
[It] has given a sign of recognition that domestic workers everywhere are neither servants nor members of the family but people who labor and who are entitled to rights, protections and decent work like any other worker. Given the abuse and exploitation that many domestic workers face, this is a milestone.
The California legislation is modeled after a similar bill passed last year in New York.
The new rule is a great beginning, said Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), but nations must commit to enforcing it before it has a real impact.
We call upon all governments to ratify and implement it and upon the ILO to provide clear guidance to these countries that need to improve their laws to protect domestic workers’ rights in their economies.
Burrow said special attention must be paid to treatment of migrant domestic workers in Gulf nations, where widespread abuse has been reported in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emarites and Bahrain. Burrow called on the ILO to develop an action plan specifically for the monitoring of the implementation of the convention in the Gulf.