What have Bolivia, Italy, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Paraguay, the Philippines and Uruguay got in common? They are the seven nations which have so far ratified ILO Convention 189 on equal rights for domestic workers since it was adopted by the ILO in 2011. The UK Government hasn’t, and even abstained even on the adoption of the Convention (the CBI were almost alone in voting against!) because it claims that the health and safety implications would make it impossible to implement.
This month, on international migration day (12 December), the TUC joined with Anti-Slavery International and two migrant domestic worker organisations, Justice4DomesticWorkers and Kalayaan, to urge the British government to ratify. We’re part of an international campaign which also includes the ITUC, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and so on.
We’re often told that unions can’t organise people who don’t work in the public sector any more, or in large workplaces, or in heavy industry. But Kalayaan and J4DW suggest otherwise, and the international examples include organisations in Nepal (which the TUC helped set up), South Africa, Jamaica and many more. We need to help spread the lessons of that organising (we’re not saying it’s easy!) as well as demanding equal employment rights.