News / Europe

    Landmark Convention Adopted to Protect Domestic Workers

    Activists hold banners - one of which (R) reads, "I am a worker, not a servant" - during a demonstration to support the rights of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, in Beirut, Lebanon, May 1, 2010 (file photo)
    Activists hold banners - one of which (R) reads, "I am a worker, not a servant" - during a demonstration to support the rights of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, in Beirut, Lebanon, May 1, 2010 (file photo)
    Lisa Schlein

    Delegates attending the International Labor Conference have adopted a landmark Convention aimed at improving the working conditions of tens of millions of domestic workers worldwide.

    The measure was passed by a vote of 396 in favor, 16 abstentions, and one negative vote cast by Swaziland. The Convention is an international treaty that is binding on member states that ratify it.

    The director-general of the International Labor Organization [ILO], Juan Somavia, calls the adoption of the Convention a historical moment for domestic workers worldwide.

    “Today, we have taken a significant step by an overwhelming majority towards making domestic work, decent work," said Somavia. "In fact, it is the name of the Convention, making what is too often invisible work, visible.”  

    Recent ILO estimates show there are at least 53 million domestic workers worldwide. But given the hidden nature of this work, experts believe this number is probably closer to 100 million. Around 83 percent of these workers are women or girls, and many are migrant workers, most come from developing countries.

    The ILO says domestic workers very often are exploited and treated badly in the households in which they work. Many work long hours for little pay and often suffer physical and mental abuse from their employers.

    The Convention states domestic workers are workers like all others. They are neither servants, nor members of the family.  

    The new ILO standards say domestic workers must have the same basic labor rights as those available to other workers. These include reasonable hours of work, weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours, and a limit on in-kind payment.

    Manuela Tomei is director of the ILO’s Conditions of Work and Employment Program. She acknowledges that providing the protections enshrined in the Convention will not be easy. But she said the agreement is not toothless. She said there are a number of concrete measures in the Convention that can make a difference.

    “Measures that are related to the fact of ensuring, first of all, labor inspectors might be allowed to enter into private households under, of course, very strict conditions in order to verify whether or not the national law as far as domestic workers are concerned is being applied or not,” said Tomei.

    Another provision in the Convention emphasizes the need to provide adequate information to domestic workers about their rights. That is the tasks they are prepared to perform, the hours of work and pay.

    The Convention will come into force after two countries have ratified it. The ILO expects this to happen by next year.

    You May Like

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Presidential Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.