Domestic Workers

Promoting ILO Convention No. 189 and building domestic workers’ power

The adoption by the International Labour Conference, on 16 June 2011, of ILO Convention No. 189 and Recommendation No. 201 on decent work for domestic workers, represents an historic step in the struggle for social justice worldwide. It was the culmination of several decades of domestic workers’ organizations and trade unions campaigning to end exclusion, and gain recognition for the rights of domestic workers.

Though the Convention and Recommendation are now won, the fight for domestic worker rights is far from over. The ratification of the Convention and application of both of these new international instruments must be a priority for the ILO and the labour movement.

The potential of a global campaign for the ratification of Convention No. 189 is plain to see: it is the instrument needed to transform the employment relationship of some 100 million domestic workers from one based on exploitation, to one based on rights. It is also the best tool available to trade unions for organizing domestic workers and equipping them with the collective means of demanding their rightful place in the world of work.

Alongside workers’ organizations, the ILO Bureau for Workers’ Activities (ACTRAV) will spare no efforts to ensure that the Convention is ratified as rapidly and broadly as possible, and will take action to get the Convention implemented in law and practice.

A trade union manual designed to support just such actions is being finalized and ACTRAV is providing support for trade union activities in conjunction with the 12X12 campaign launched by the International Trade Union Confederation the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) and the International Domestic Workers’ Network (IDWN) .

Our contribution will be even more effective if it can serve as a catalyst for union organizers to share their experience and contribute to the emerging networks of domestic workers and on-going campaigns.