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posted 16 Jun 2011, 11:54 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 23 Jun 2011, 06:35 ]


While we appreciate and welcome the re-publication of items from this web site, we urge those who do so to acknowledge the source of the items. The article published here was republished in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian of Monday June 20th 2011. The Guardian could surely do better than that.

The 100th annual Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on Thursday, 16 June adopted the Convention on Domestic Workers (2011) by a vote of 396 to 16, with 63 abstentions and the accompanying Recommendation by a vote of 434 to 8, with 42 abstentions.
Comrade Ida Le Blanc, General Secretary of NUDE

The Convention is an international treaty that is binding on Member States that ratify it, while the Recommendation provides more detailed guidance on how to apply the Convention.

Comrade Ida Le Blanc, General Secretary of the National Union of Domestic Employees (NUDE), who participated in the vote on the convention, was for years a leading member of the international campaign to have legal restrictions which prevents domestic workers being treated like other workers, removed. NUDE and in particular, Comrade Ida Le Blanc, deserves heartfelt congratulations on this great victory.

Comrade Le Blanc told this website: “We have won an ILO Convention and a Recommendation for Domestic Workers. The voting was excellent. Trinidad and Tobago Delegation all voted for in favour of the Convention and Recommendation.

This is a historic moment for us and over 100 million domestic workers of the world (90% of which are women and many who are migrants). We have to now call for ratification and for the instrument to be implemented by our different countries.

The adoption of the Convention is loudly stating that domestic workers are not servants anymore, but workers with rights like any other worker. That is what Clotil Walcott sought to do. She had a vision for the Domestic workers. Domestic workers are a representative sector of the global economy, deserving full labour and social protections. Domestic workers care for the most valuable aspects of their employers' lives

We are very glad the convention protects the rights of migrant domestic workers and prohibits child domestic labour. We are proud that by organizing ourselves, we have been able to be one of the few groups of worker to sit at the table and negotiate our convention More than 70 domestic workers from all continents were at the Conference.”

According to the website of the International Labour Organisation; “The new ILO standards set out that domestic workers around the world who care for families and households, must have the same basic labour rights as those available to other workers: reasonable hours of work, weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours, a limit on in-kind payment, clear information on terms and conditions of employment, as well as respect for fundamental principles and rights at work including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

Recent ILO estimates based on national surveys and/or censuses of 117 countries, place the number of domestic workers at around 53 million. However, experts say that due to the fact that this kind of work is often hidden and unregistered, the total number of domestic workers could be as high as 100 million. In developing countries, they make up at least 4 to 12 per cent of wage employment. Around 83 per cent of these workers are women or girls and many are migrant workers.

The Convention defines domestic work as work performed in or for a household or households. While the new instruments cover all domestic workers, they provide for special measures to protect those workers who, because of their young age or nationality or live-in status, may be exposed to additional risks relative to their peers, among others.

According to ILO proceedings, the new Convention will come into force after two countries have ratified it.

“Bringing the domestic workers into the fold of our values is a strong move, for them and for all workers who aspire to decent work, but it also has strong implications for migration and of course for gender equality,” Mr. Somavia said.

In its introductory text, the new Convention says that “domestic work continues to be undervalued and invisible and is mainly carried out by women and girls, many of whom are migrants or members of disadvantaged communities and who are particularly vulnerable to discrimination in respect of conditions of employment and work, and to other abuses of human rights.”

Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, in her address to the Conference Committee, said that the deficit of decent work among domestic workers “can no longer be tolerated,” adding that UN Women would support the process of ratification and application of the new ILO instruments.”

The removal of legal restrictions on domestic workers was one of the aims of the Workers' Agenda.