European & International News

MEPs urged to back rights of domestic workers

[The Parliament.com, Brussels, 06 October 2011] Parliament has been urged to draft a resolution on the "need for better protection" for domestic workers.

MEPs have also been encouraged to support and promote ratification and implementation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention on domestic workers.

The convention states that domestic workers who care for families and households "must have the same basic labour rights as those available to other workers".

If ratified, campaigners say it will improve the working conditions of the estimated 100 million domestic workers worldwide, the majority of whom are women and migrants.

The recommendations come after a debate in parliament heard that many domestic workers, particularly those who work for diplomats, are poorly paid and suffer bad working conditions.

In some cases, diplomats use "immunity" as an excuse for not paying such workers or for subjecting them to poor working conditions, the hearing heard.

The hearing, organised by Solidar, the European network of social NGOs, was held ahead of "world day for decent work" on Friday.

Solidar’s demands were backed by the Party of European Socialists (PES) which has also encouraged EU member states to "take heed" and ratify the ILO text.

PES general secretary Philip Cordery said, "Once signed by member states, this international commitment will ensure decent working conditions, reduce poverty and social exclusion, and highlight the needs of the most vulnerable workers, the vast majority of whom are women.

"For years, domestic workers have been a huge part of the parallel and hidden economy.

"PES is fully committed to this campaign and congratulates Solidar and the International Trade Union Confederation."

He added, "They are at the forefront of the struggle to give people a living, and not just a minimum, wage.

"All workers should enjoy the same rights in Europe. Domestic workers, an essential work-force and service within the EU, have been too often neglected or ignored by authorities."

The campaign is backed by S&D MEP Tanja Fajon who said, "It is now the member states’ responsibility not to lose the momentum to ratify and implement the convention."

To mark the fourth world day for decent work, Solidar organised a two-day "workers’ tour event", calling on MEPs and government representatives to promote and support the ratification and implementation of the ILO convention.

By Martin Banks

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