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ILO sets out ‘historic’ standards for domestic workers around the world

Friday, June 17th 2011 - 16:52 UTC
Full article 3 comments
An estimated 100 million people are involved in domestic work, mainly women and girls An estimated 100 million people are involved in domestic work, mainly women and girls

Government, worker and employer delegates at the 100th annual conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted a historic set of international standards aimed at improving the working conditions of tens of millions of domestic workers worldwide.

“We are moving the standards system of the ILO into the informal economy for the first time, and this is a breakthrough of great significance” said Juan Somavia, ILO Director-General. “History is being made.”

Conference delegates adopted the Convention on Domestic Workers (2011) and the accompanying Recommendation by an overwhelming vote. The ILO is the only tripartite organization of the UN, and each of its 183 Member States is represented by two government delegates, and one employer and one worker delegate, with an independent vote.

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% of wage employment. Around 83% 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.
 

Categories: Politics, International.

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • briton

    . What only two countries, another waste of public money,
    Now, of course if they could even partly enforce that on the likes of India Pakistan north Korea, china the gold coast, some people might even listen, but i wouldn’t bank on it .

    Jun 17th, 2011 - 05:00 pm 0
  • Fido Dido

    ILO is unconstitutional, period. Each country has the right to settle the standards for their domestic workers between their borders, not the UN. It's time to put that dictatorial organization out of business.

    Jun 17th, 2011 - 10:22 pm 0
  • GeoffWard

    It is right that the UN, *etc*, should have benchmarks for the employees in this sector, as well as in other sectors where exploitation is rife.

    But domestic workers exist in countries of massively different resource and with differing legal frameworks for domestic employment.

    For instance, here in Brasil, the basic weekly wage is just the starting point for the payment & benefits package that defines domestic employment.
    Some employers still exploit workers employed through the black economy - this is a separate but important issue, as employment registration (or otherwise) is important for taxation (if any) and for 'Social Security' eg. Bolsa Familia payments.

    One trend is apparent - the vast expansion of *mobile phones* has made *Daily* contracted domestics a viable life-style, pushing up daily rates - and largely hidden from the authorities.
    This is an exploding area of employment - one where the worker plying her trade holds the diary and the 'whip-hand'.

    One thing is sure - raising significantly the basic minimum wage for the Domestic Worker group will raise the total package cost of full time domestic employment, and will put millions out of work or into the black, uncontrolable, economy.
    It needs VERY careful handling and publicising, along with a media awareness campaign, to avoid it going pear-shaped with unexpected and unplanned consequences.

    Jun 19th, 2011 - 11:02 pm 0
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