Today’s sessions of the ILC slowed, with consensus achieved among the tripartite members on only articles 9, 10, and 11 in a session that ran until 9:30pm. The contentious issues of the debates were primarily centred on the provisions for hours of work, daily and weekly rest periods.
The workers group was pleased to see consensus achieved on the provision in article 10(2), guaranteeing 24 consecutive rest hours. The text agreed upon reads as follows: “Weekly rest shall be at least 24 consecutive hours.” This formulation provides for some flexibility in terms of the accumulation of hours of rest over a period not exceeding 14 days.
The requirement for tripartite consensus makes negotiations and the establishment of principles difficult. The provisions have to be flexible enough to avoid barriers to ratification on the part of states, but the Convention is also meant to be a document that provides for the protections of this vulnerable group of workers that should set the bar high for states in terms of implementation. The Government of South Africa reminded the assembled that the debate should not be focused on whether or not the convention is ‘implementable’ in practice, but on whether or not the provisions establish necessary and adequate protections for domestic workers.
The debate will continue tomorrow, with an afternoon session and an evening session that is already scheduled until 10:30pm. The aim is to finish discussion on the remaining 7 articles, which would complete the deliberations on the binding sections of the Convention. If the debates are finished according to the schedule, deliberations on the text of the non-binding recommendation will commence on June 8th.