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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid