The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has a commitment to promoting “decent work” internationally. The ILO broke new ground at its 100th Commemoration Conference in Geneva from 1-17 June 2011, by adopting a Convention and Recommendation for Domestic Workers.
The Convention and Recommendation recognises domestic workers as an integral part of the global workforce. Domestic workers make a significant contribution to the international economy but their work is still undervalued and poorly regulated. Now, like any other workers they should enjoy decent working and living conditions, be paid for overtime worked, have weekly rest days, a health and safety environment, social security, the right to maternity leave without facing dismissal, and that no employment agent fee to be deducted from their salaries.
One of the Convention’s articles protects young domestic workers from being deprived of their right to education, and further education or vocational training, and sets out conditions for the eradication of child labour and forced labour.
South Africa is a member of the ILO, and once a member country ratifies a Convention, it is binding on that country, the Recommendation provides further detail on the implementation of the Convention.
Cosatu has acknowledged the contribution of the workers, who have campaigned and mobilising for the adoption of this Convention and Recommendation, which aims to improve the working conditions of domestic workers and bring them into the informal economy. In addition, they have acknowledged the South African government and the Brazilian Minister of Labour for their role in supporting the negotiation for the adoption of these standards.
The union federation is now calling on the South African Government to be the first country to ratify and implement the convention. This would be in line with priority 1 – “to strengthen labour market governance”- of the South African Decent Work Country Programme, which was signed in September 2010. This provision requires the country to ensure that ILO standards are ratified and applied.
In addition, Cosatu will be seeking the support of unions to work with the South African Domestic & Services Workers Union (SADSAWU), both for the adoption of these standards, and also to educate domestic workers in their rights as employees.
Additional relevant documents are attached:
Decent work country programme 2011-04%20Nedlac%20ILO%20decent%20work%20country%20programme.pdf