Statistics yesterday produced by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) highlighted that there are over 52 million domestic workers around the world, who are exploited on a daily basis.  The term ‘domestic worker’ covers individuals who coo …

Samantha Ritchie

 

Statistics yesterday produced by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) highlighted that there are over 52 million domestic workers around the world, who are exploited on a daily basis.  The term ‘domestic worker’ covers individuals who cook, clean, care for the elderly and children, garden and security. Domestic workers tend to be women as they make up 83 percent of employees in this workforce. However, they have very little provisions and many are paid below the minimum wage.

 

Domestic workers tend to be ignored by main stream labour issues and do not seem to be included in policy making on social issues. Domestic workers tend to work in homes and therefore, are isolated from public view. The ILO has also stated that 45% of domestic workers do not entitlement to have a rest period and there are no limits to the amount of hours they work per week. The ILO’s director general, Guy Ryder, stated that “the ILO’s mandate requires it to reach out to those who are most vulnerable, who face great insecurity and for whom the denial of social justice is most cruel.”

 

Domestic workers are still ignored from provisions that other workers take for granted such as working conditions, paid annual leave, minimum wage and maternity/paternity protection. For example, the ILO report highlighted that more than a third of women, in this sector, are not entitled to maternity leave or maternity cash benefits. Therefore, if you get pregnant you are either sacked, straight back to work after giving birth or unpaid for the time you need to take off while pregnant.  Never mind the child care you need when the child is born.

 

To tackle these inequalities, the ILO has submitted Recommendation 201. This recommendation sets out to confront inequalities that domestic workers face on a day to day basis. And, since this recommendation was highlighted over twenty countries have initiated ratification procedures and taken steps in the right direction. But, in countries in the Middle East and Asia, workers are still being exploited and governments are not willing to implement legislation.

 

The lack of provisions and rights for domestic workers are appalling. Fifty two million workers around the world suffer this inequality. And this doesn’t include the 7.3 million children who are in this sector, who are also exploited.

 

We need urgent change and support for these workers as this exploitation is a violation of human rights.


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Samantha Ritchie