Unions build pressure to implement convention for domestic workers

photo: AFP

Ten years after it was agreed, ITUC affiliates are building pressure on governments to ratify and implement the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 189 for domestic workers.

C189 was negotiated in 2011 and requires that countries ensure domestic workers have the same rights and freedoms as other workers.

However, a new report by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), a body co-founded by the Commonwealth Trade Union Group, has found that only nine Commonwealth countries have ratified, or are in the process of ratifying, C189. This leaves 45 countries who have not, including India, Papua New Guinea, Uganda and the United Kingdom.

The EU C189 Alliance, which includes global unions, has found that only eight EU members states have ratified C189.

Other ITUC affiliates across the world are pushing for governments to urgently ratify and implement in national law the rights enshrined in C189. Globally, 35 countries have done this.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, said: “Ratifying and implementing C189 is a moral duty of all governments to show that they value the work of domestic workers. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic many have kept working and caring, despite the risks to their own health.

“They are too often forgotten and as they are mostly women migrant workers, they are too often exploited.

“I encourage the unions involved in campaigns to ratify C189 to keep up their important work. It is a scandal that ten years after C189 was agreed it is not more widely implemented. But with their efforts C189 will be put in place more widely and domestic workers will enjoy the rights and freedoms they deserve.”