ILO supports Domestic Workers

All about the ILO and Domestic Workers, the new 2011 ILO Convention and Domestic Workers, International Domestic Workers support and more on Mywage Zimbabwe.

For many years, domestic workers in Zimbabwe have endured unfair labour practices and worked long hours for paltry salaries. Such has been the level of abuse that over the years domestic workers have been variously referred to as “garden boys” and ”house girls”. Domestic workers are often taken for granted. Society views them as uneducated and under qualified workers who can be hired and fired at will.  

International support

This year, however, The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has urged member states to effectively implement a historic convention, which seeks to improve working conditions of millions of domestic workers worldwide.  Dr. Cleopatra Dambia- Henry, the ILO Director of the International Labour Standards department who was in Zimbabwe in July to attend an ILO and Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare seminar in Nyanga, said efforts to reduce abuse of domestic workers have intensified. “We are happy that this year was a special year for ILO as we celebrated our 100th session, which gave birth to a special convention on domestic workers.  Such a convention which seeks to protect the domestic worker has been long overdue,” said Dr. Dambia-Henry.  

Statistics presented at the seminar indicated that domestic workers form one of the largest groups of workers in Zimbabwe.  She said although most domestic workers were unskilled and uneducated they have majorly contributed to the world economy. However, they continued to be a vulnerable group of workers.

“Domestic workers make the bulk of the workers globally.  They are in the category of the most vulnerable and most abused group of workers.  We need to recognise that they are important.  They are workers and they need protection,” she said.   

Abuse a thing of the past?

What makes the plight of domestic workers worse is the fact that in most instances, they are not given any pension benefits and cannot bargain collectively. But the ill-treatment could become a thing of the past, following efforts by the ministry of labour and social welfare and the ILO.  

“The convention will be very relevant to Zimbabwe, as it is one of the developing countries where the abuse of domestic workers is happening,” said Dr. Dambia-Henry.

She also said the convention sets a standard for working and living conditions and guaranteeing domestic workers the right to collective bargaining.

A huge difference to Domestic Workers

She noted that if member countries ratify this convention it would make a huge difference to the lives of domestic workers who currently face exploitation and abuse at work on a daily basis.

“We urge member states to take measures that ensure that domestic workers enjoy effective protection against all forms of abuse, harassment and violence.  A protection sadly lacking today, “ she said.

She urged governments to dedicate resources in raising awareness among domestic workers and their employees about labour rights and protections guaranteed in the ILO convention on decent work for domestic workers.

Zimbabwe could lead the way

With Zimbabwe recently elected into the ILO’s governing body it has an obligation to ratify the convention and domesticate it into national laws.  ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo said what is now left is the crafting of a law that makes it illegal to abuse domestic workers.  He also urged domestic workers to form a National Employment Council (NEC).  The NEC would be the institution that will enable domestic workers to bargain collectively and fix wages.

Labour Court President Justice Euna Makamure said the convention would help the judiciary to appropriately tackle domestic workers’ labour grievances, adding:  “The convention is useful as it widens our horizons and ability to interpret our law for the benefit of all those who need our services.

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