Landmark ILO treaty to protect domestic workers

The International Labour Organisation on Thursday passed a landmark treaty giving protection to an estimated 52.6 million domestic workers across the world.

The new convention would ensure domestic workers enjoyed conditions “not less favourable” than other workers, and require governments to ensure they understood their rights, preferably through written contracts.

The document also offers domestic workers a full rest day every week, and prevents them being compelled to remain with an employer's household during their annual leave or rest days.

The convention, which was adopted with 396 votes for, 16 against and 63 abstentions, will come into effect upon the ratification of two countries. The Philippines and Uruguay have already said they would ratify the accord.

“We are moving the standards system of the ILO into the informal economy for the first time, and this is a breakthrough of great significance,” said Juan Somavia, ILO Director-General. “History is being made,” he added.

ILO data, which is a compilation of national statistics, indicate there were at least 52.6 million domestic workers worldwide in 2010.

But there are reasons to believe that the true number, concealed by undercounting among some states, could lie close to 100 million, the U.N. agency added.

Despite the large numbers, domestic workers are still among the most exploited and abused.

Nevertheless, joining the convention is only the first step. Countries would not have to implement the treaty until ratification, while others may opt not to sign up, which could reduce its bite.

While it has secured the support of countries ranging from Gulf states to the United States, Indonesia, and Brazil, other governments, such as Britain, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, abstained.

The Delhi Workers' Confederation urged the Indian government to “implement this treaty in letter and spirit and provide equal opportunities and protection to our domestic workers.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 7:13:46 AM |

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