ILO proposes 'Decent Work for Domestic Workers' agenda

March 21, 2008 - United States Of America

The Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) decided yesterday to include the item “Decent Work for Domestic Workers” on the agenda of the 99th session (2010) of the International Labour Conference.

The ITUC welcomes this step towards better international protection of the rights of domestic workers. “This is an historic advance in the fight on behalf of millions of domestic workers who today face widespread exploitation and are prevented from enjoying decent working conditions,” said Guy Ryder, general secretary of the ITUC.

Excessively long working hours, low pay, little social security, sexual harassment, physical violence, abuses by the recruiting agents, forced labour, an increasing use of child labour... the situation described in the document submitted to the members of the ILO’s Governing Body meeting in Geneva from 6 to 20 March once again sheds light on the extreme vulnerability of this group of workers, particularly migrants and women, and the desperate lack of decent work.

Hitherto ignored by international law, these workers are all too often excluded from national labour legislation and deprived of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

The ITUC, together with the international trade union group Global Unions and the Workers’ Group of the ILO Governing Body, had called on its affiliated organisations to urge the governments of the countries represented on the ILO Governing Body to support the proposal to draw up an international convention designed specifically to protect domestic workers.

“The ILO has long been arguing in favour of a specific legal instrument for this particularly vulnerable category of workers. This step towards the development of a new legal instrument should contribute to filling a huge gap in terms of promoting decent work for all,” said Sir Roy Trotman, Spokesperson of the Workers’ Group of the ILO Governing Body.