There are encouraging signs of countries ratifying ILO Convention No 189 on Domestic Workers. To date 8 have done so: Uruguay, Philippines, Mauritius, Italy, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Paraguay and Colombia. Of course these ratifications are important for all the domestic workers in all of these countries.
From a UK perspective however Italy is probably the standout country, our large EU neighbour.
Notably the German trade union movement reports that their Ministry of Labour have also started the ratification process and they do not see any obstacles to its adoption. Currently the social partners and federal government are working on its ratification through the national parliament.
The drive for ratification is being supported by the ITUC in its 12 by 12 campaign – 12 countries ratifying in 2012 – although falling a little short in its key target,there have been some impressive achievements.As their recent newsletter points out, the campaign has led to more Domestic Workers joining trade unions. In Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Angola and Sri Lanka new Domestic Workers unions have been established.
A number of governments have also improved their laws to better protect domestic workers, including:
- Chile, where the working time of domestic workers was regulated by law
- Spain, which granted them access to social protection
- Brazil, where the constitution was amended in order to facilitate the adoption of the Convention
- Singapore, which granted a day off a week to domestic workers
- Vietnam, where a new Labour Code was adopted recognizing for the first time domestic work
- Malawi, where the minimum wage for domestic workers was increased
The ITUC newsletter also highlights the dreadful treatment many domestic workers continue to suffer. The UK government, who along with the Czech Republic, were the only EU governments who did not support the Domestic Workers convention, would acknowledge that such abuse takes place.
Seemingly we are led to believe that it does not however take place in the UK, because of existing legal protections – despite evidence to the contrary from Justice for Domestic Workers.
From the reactions of the German and Italian governments it seems that they believe such abuse continues to exist in their countries. Strange that!