ILO brings an estimated 53 to 100 million domestic workers worldwide under the realm of labour standards

Domestic workers celebrating at the Conference

NAR: Domestic workers celebrating in Geneva as the 100th annual Conference of the International Labour. Organization (ILO) on Thursday, 16 June adopted a historic set of international standards aimed at improving the working conditions of tens of millions of domestic workers worldwide.

The Convention on Domestic Workers states that domestic workers should benefit from the right to regular working hours, maternity leave, unemployment insurance and annual leave. ILO delegates who include governments, employers and trade unions adopted the Convention by a vote of 396 in favour, 16 against and 63 abstentions. ILO estimates that there are nearly 100 million domestic workers worldwide, majority of whom are women and girls.

Reaction to the adoption of the standards was quick. The Assistant General – Secretary of the Barbados Workers' Union is Toni Moore.

TAPE: I think words cannot express the emotions going on right now. For sure on the workers side we are very, very happy with the vote that has just been won for domestic workers – a vote that has potential for changing the lives of so many millions of workers throughout the world.

Q: What do you think it means in practice for domestic workers across the world?

A: I think it's a bigger deal when we know that the Convention is actually going to be ratified and that it is implemented. So we recognize now that we have a lot of work to do to ensure that governments who voted in favor- that those member States will actually follow through on their commitment to the ILO made today. But regarding what it would mean for domestic workers, what is it actually going to do? It means that domestic workers actually have now an opportunity for hours of work to be regulated. For domestic workers, many of them migrant workers and women, they now have the opportunity to now have labour inspections – a provision that was never before available. They can report instances of harassment; they can reports instances of violations; of abuse and have those addressed under systems of labor inspections within the respective territories. Domestic workers today can celebrate even in absence of ratification because the opportunity is now open to them. Doors are now open to domestic workers to enjoy the same benefits and privileges of others workers throughout the world.

NAR: The Assistant General – Secretary of the Barbados Workers' Union is Toni Moore.

ILO Director General Juan Somavia said the adoption of the convention was a historic moment for domestic workers who will no longer be considered second-class workers.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 2’52″

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