Posted: Thursday, 16 June 2011
GENEVA – An agreement adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) on June 16 regarding decent work for domestic workers is precedent setting and it will bring about real change in the living and working conditions of those workers, says Barb Byers, the Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress.
“The CLC fully supports the adoption of this Convention and the regulations that will see it implemented,” says Byers, who has been a participant on behalf of the CLC at the negotiations in Geneva. “This is a major victory for live-in caregivers and other domestic workers because they will be recognized as equal in status to other workers and with the same rights. This should go a long way toward making decent work a reality for domestic workers in Canada and elsewhere.”
There are an estimated 150,000 workers in Canada performing domestic tasks, working as nannies or parents’ helpers to provide child care, or serving as live-in care or home support workers.
Byers says the major task now will be to have the new convention ratified by governments. This will require that the Canadian government review and overhaul its Live-In Caregiver Program. “Many workers who come to Canada under this program hope to find a better life and an opportunity to support their families back at home. Once here, they find that working conditions are often not what had been promised. Some live in fear of being deported if they don’t do everything that is asked of them by those employers who are unscrupulous. This has to change and it will.”
Byers says that she is especially pleased that the CLC and other labour groups, including the Quebec Federation of Labour, CUPE, CAW and SEIU sponsored women from organizations of domestic workers and live-in caregivers to accompany the labour delegation in Geneva. “It has been very exciting to have them here as part of our delegation and adding their perspective. This will strengthen our work in building alliances between the trade union movement and domestic workers when we return home,” she says. “Together, we have to build support for the ratification of this Convention by the Canadian government.”
For more information on the Convention on domestic workers, please see: http://www.ilo.org/ilc/ILCSessions/100thSession/media-centre/press-releases/WCMS_157891/lang--en/index.htm