Solidarity with the IDWF and Elizabeth Tang advancing decent work for domestic workers

photo: IDWF: Elizabeth Tang and Myrtle Witbooi

On International Domestic Workers Day, 16 June, the ITUC stands in solidarity with the International Domestic Workers’ Federation (IDWF) and its General Secretary Elizabeth Tang.

We honour their resilience in building a strong and united movement of hundreds of thousands of domestic workers fighting for justice and respect.

We congratulate them for receiving the Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights that recognises their important role advancing rights and protections for all domestic workers.

The prize coincides with a strong call to action to all ILO Member States to ratify C189 and C190. Convention 189, adopted on 16 June 2011, recognises domestic work as work. Backed by the IDWF and the ITUC, C189 has improved rights and protections for millions of domestic workers through law and policy reforms. This includes significant wage rises in South Africa and extended employment benefits in Spain.

These achievements were made in part thanks to the compassionate leadership of IDWF President Myrtle Witbooi, who died early this year. Her legacy of inspiring and uniting domestic workers across the world to demand respect and rights will remain an inspiration for us all.

Under the leadership of Elizabeth Tang and Myrtle Witbooi, the IDWF became a vibrant and effective global union organisation, the first led entirely by women, representing 670,000 domestic workers of all backgrounds: workers of colour, of indigenous heritage, from LGTBQI communities, migrant workers and former child domestic workers.

While celebrating the progress made, major challenges remain: over one third of the world’s 76 million domestic workers are excluded from labour laws, and many face exploitation, abuse and do not earn a living wage.

The ITUC supports the IDWF’s fight for decent work for all domestic workers. It is an integral part of the ITUC’s priorities for the years to come to secure adequate investments in the care economy and decent work for all domestic and care workers, the universal ratification and effective implementation of C190 and rights and protections for migrant workers.

Since March, Elizabeth Tang has remained under investigation by the Hong Kong authorities under spurious national security charges. The ITUC reiterates the demand for the withdrawal of her bail and travel restrictions, which stop her from assuming her full role in defending the rights of domestic workers globally.