On June 16th at 11:43am Geneva time, history was made at the 100th International Labour Conference, as the
International Labour Organization adopted Convention 189: Decent Work for Domestic Workers, with 396 voting in
favour, 16 against, and 63 abstentions. This is a turning point in the history of the world of work, and will change the lives of at least 100 million workers globally.
An historic moment for domestic workers —This long overdue recognition of domestic work as work legitimizes the claims of domestic workers to dignity in the workplace, respects their labour rights, and renders them visible to authorities tasked with ensuring that labour standards are enforced. This Convention recognizes the need for a reinvention of the way our societies view domestic work. Employers have a range of ideas about who domestic workers are – they are variously seen as ‘servants,’ ‘helpers,’ ‘caregivers,’ ‘maids,’ and even ‘members of the family.’ Few recognize the inherent problems with these labels. Casting domestic workers as anything other than workers invites employers and states to justify all manner of unjust, disrespectful, undignified, inhuman, violent, and now illegal treatment to which workers in other sectors are not subjected.
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