Global Action programme on migrant domestic workers and their families

Global Action programme on migrant domestic workers and their families

Since the passing of the laws, I have made sure to tell all my friends from Paraguay who also work as domestic workers to request a work contract from their employers and claim the new benefits. Most of them are now part of the formal economy.

Maria Perez

CONTEXT

Around the world, at least 53 million people, over 83% of whom are women, earn their living as domestic workers, and this number is increasing steadily in both developed and developing countries. Domestic workers make invaluable economic, cultural and social contributions to their countries of origin, transit and destination but their contributions are often overlooked. In consequence, they are excluded from the protection of national legislation, work for excessively long hours, with little pay, and with almost no access to social protection.

OBJECTIVES

  • In order to address the specific challenges that migrant domestic workers face, the ILO, with funding from the EU, embarked on a “Global Action Programme on Migrant Domestic Workers and their Families” in 2013. The programme seeks to promote the human and labour rights of these particularly vulnerable workers worldwide by addressing the factors that put them at risk of exploitation and abuse.

RESULTS

  • In 2011, the International Labour Conference of the ILO adopted the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189).
  • Bilateral agreements have been made between trade unions in countries of origin and destination in three migration corridors.
  • Legislation for domestic workers was passed in Paraguay and the first domestic workers’ union in the Arab world in Lebanon was founded.
  • Argentina has recognised maternity leave, paid holidays, a minimum wage, a yearly bonus and compensation for layoffs or firing.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Argentina now also restricts working hours to eight per day and 48 per week for domestic workers.

TESTIMONY

Bringing a better life to migrant domestic workers in Argentina

"Why do other workers have rights, but not us?" Maria Perez remembers asking herself when she first arrived to Argentina from Paraguay 25 years ago, to find employment as a domestic worker. Today, after labour organising for decades, Argentina has a new national migration policy, including a new law on domestic workers which demonstrates a strong commitment by the Government of Argentina to regularise and formalise the domestic work sector for nationals and migrants alike.

"I'm very optimistic. I always believed things could be better. Many people thought it was our destiny to be exploited, but I never lost faith that things could improve for us workers," said Maria.

"I work now as a live-out domestic worker, from Monday to Friday. I have a contract and I know my rights. After many years working in Argentina, I will be able to retire and have my pension paid in Paraguay", a satisfied Maria explains. She has also joined the Domestic Workers Union (UPACP) and enrolled in the vocational training course "Servicios en casas particulares" ("Service in private homes"), which UPACP provides to its affiliates free of charge. "I received a Diploma. I framed it and I hung it on my wall. I feel so proud of myself."

"Since the passing of the laws, I have made sure to tell all my friends from Paraguay who also work as domestic workers to request a work contract from their employers and claim the new benefits. Most of them are now part of the formal economy," explained Maria.

 "We have to keep demanding respect and make sure all domestic workers have a contract, it is about our future and the future of our children."