ILO adopts convention on domestic workers

posted 11 Jun 2010, 00:34 by Stefan Gigacz   [ updated 11 Jun 2010, 00:58 ]
The International Labour Conference of the ILO has overridden opposition from Bangladesh, India, Arab countries and employers to adopt a convention on the rights of domestic workers around the world. 

Opponents to the measure tried to have the document limited to a non-binding “recommendation,” reports. 

Unexpected support for the convention came from China, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand. 

The International YCW also welcomed the decision, following lobbying by IYCW representatives, Geethani Peries (IYCW president, from Sri Lanka), Marcos Rondon (international team member, from Venezuela), Christian Doumingou (national president, Gabon YCW), Noelia Samudio (activist and leader of Paraguay YCW), who took part in the 99th session of the ILC, in collaboration with Social Alert.

The IYCW team called for the domestic workers convention to include measures on freedom of association and collective bargaining, working hours, minimum wage and equal wage, occupational health and safety and social security;

“This is a major victory,” said former Indian YCS collaborator, Sister Jeanne Devos from India’s National Domestic Workers Movement (NDWM), which has more than 3.5 million members. 

The decision showed that the international community has recognized domestic workers as people with rights comparable to other workers, she said. 

The official opposition to a convention showed the scale of problems facing workers and their advocates, she said. 

The new convention was passed at the ILO’s June 2-18 meeting in Geneva, attended by more than 2,500 delegates from member countries, trade unions and employer’s confederations. 

It provides for freedom of association, fair terms of employment and decent working and living conditions, easy access to dispute settlement procedures, regulation of employment agencies and protection of migrant domestic workers. 

The agenda also included the adoption of two recommendations – one on decent work for domestic workers and the other on HIV/AIDS and the world of work. 

International YCW president, Ms Geethani Pieris, was among the many people lobbying for the success of this measure.