March 11, 2019. High-level delegates from Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay made national commitments to advance the rights of domestic workers through the Declaration presented during the sixty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York City. Trade Unions representatives, Civil Society members and the United Nations, discussed progress, good practices as well as the main challenges in this labor sector that faces important challenges in the region within the framework of ILO Convention 189 on decent work for domestic workers.
During the event that brought together governments, civil society members , trade unionists and UN agencies, it was analyzed how strategies from different sectors have work to achieve equality in regards to household work with other general labor standards and thus to achieve decent work standards for all workers. Mariela Mazotti, director of the National Women’s Institute of Uruguay, highlighted that the implementation of labor inspections in private homes has been a key strategy in order to understand and implement the decent labour standards, Carmen Britez, General Secretary of the Union Auxiliary of Private Houses of Argentina, mentioned how the negotiation with the government has allowed for the implementation of mobile offices that approach employers’ neighborhoods in order to allow the affiliation of domestic workers to the social security system. In the same vein, Paola Mera, secretary of the National Council for Gender Equality of the Government of Ecuador, stressed that the ratification of the Convention 189 has been a guideline in order to implement measures that make social security mandatory in the domestic work sector, reaching 41% of affiliation in 9 years.
One of the biggest challenges that was commonly identified was for employers to recognize the rights of domestic workers; such is the case of Argentina, about which Cecilia Garau, director of the Ministry of Production and Labor, highlighted local mechanisms developed to facilitate the registration process. However, 14% of domestic workers being immigrants from other countries of the region has been an important obstacle that results in the majority of them not being able to access the social security system.
From the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF) that brings together different national domestic workers organizations in the world, Elizabeth Tang, president of IDWFsaid that in addition to regulations, it is essential to work on effective implementation understanding the different contexts. In this process of implementation, domestic workers must be an active part of the process.
Vinicius Pinheiro, on behalf of the International Labour Organization (ILO), emphasized the progress made in the implementation of Convention 189 and the key advances that have been made in most countries of the region. At the same time he stressed the importance to approve and ratify ILO’s Convention 190, which will be discussed this year in June regarding the eradication of violence and harassment in the world of work. He recalled the role of the ILO with respect to its relationship with governments, employers and workers.
Finally, David Ray, vicepresident of CARE, read the declaration to which the countries present agreed at the end of the event. This recognizes the historical debt towards domestic workers, while committing to take urgent action for the ratification and effective implementation of the agreement 189.
The final Declaration is available in the following link here