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Union Women Focus on Domestic Workers

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Women’s Council Media Release

8 March 2012

Union Women Focus on Domestic Workers

A “12 by 12” campaign has been launched by international trade unions, domestic workers’ groups and global community organisations for the ratification of an international convention passed in 2011 to establish decent working conditions for domestic workers. The campaign aims to get 12 countries ratifying this convention in 2012.

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Women’s Council is recognising International Women’s Day today by joining this campaign. Domestic workers all over the world do work that is undervalued, underpaid, invisible and not respected said Women’s Council Convenor, Suzanne McNabb.

“The number of domestic workers is growing internationally but their conditions of employment are among the most exploitative and abusive of any group of workers. In some countries the employment of domestic workers amounts to a form of modern day slavery.”

There is an urgent need to recognise the rights of domestic workers and ensure that enough countries sign up to this new International Labour Organisation Convention: C. 189. There must be sustained progress to ensure labour rights and decent working conditions for the over 100 million workers worldwide, many of whom are migrants and most of whom are women.

Suzanne McNabb said “New Zealand can take leadership on this important international employment issue. We will be talking with relevant Government Ministers about steps that New Zealand can take to ratify this convention. New Zealand is internationally recognised as having a good record on human rights. Therefore we should be in a position to take a leading role”.

“Our domestic workers in New Zealand, who work in people’s home doing cleaning and caring work, also face some of the same unacceptable employment issues such as low pay, employment insecurity and absence of health and safety in employment protection. Ratifying this convention would also make positive changes to the employment conditions for domestic workers here” said Suzanne McNabb.


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