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Research Network for Domestic Worker Rights

Newsletter No. 15
April 2015

Italy: Conference Care Work,

Food for Life, Acli Colf, June
2015 1. Invitation: Network
2. Updates on the Con-
vention and Campaign
3. Research
3.1 Research Question
3.2 Research News
4. Conferences
5. Publications
The Newsletter includes con-
Dear colleagues, 2. Updates on the tributions from Eileen Boris,
Silvia Chimpampwe, Magdalena
You are reading the 16th newsletter Convention and Cam- Diaz Gorfinkiel, Simel Esim,
of the Research Network for Domestic paign News Marieke Koning, Raffaella Maio-
Worker Rights, including information on Italy: Workshop promoted by Acli ni, Sabrina Marchetti, Gabriela
the implementation process of the ILO Colf in Milan on June 16, 2015 Medici, Ekaterina Porras Sivo-
Convention, campaigns, and news from On Tuesday 16 June, on the occasion lobova, Aiofe Smith, Varghese
of the 4th anniversa ry of the adoption Theckanath s.g., Sofia Trevino
the world of research.
of the ILOs Domestic Workers Conven-
Pictures: Raffaella Maio-
1. Invitation: Net- tion 189, a conference on domestic ni, Ekaterina Porras
work Meeting workers rights was held at the EXPO Sivolobova,Centre for In-
A meeting of the Research Network for in Milan. The conference was titled dependent Social Research
Domestic Worker Rights (RN-DWR) will Care work, food for life, in line with the
take place at the 4th Conference of the overall topic of the EXPO. The event was
Regulating for Decent Work Network, organised by Acli Colf, an organisation
on Thursday, July 9th, 2015, 5.30pm, in promoting the labour rights and the
Room X, R2, International Labour Office, cultural participaton of domestic work-
Geneva (see invitation below). Interest- ers for the last 60 years, together with
ed non-members are welcome to join Caritas Internationalis and the literary
the meeting! contest Lingua Madre. During the con-
Topics on the agenda: ference the debate centred on everyday
Identifying key areas of concern and challenges for domestic and care work-
activities for activist researchers in the ers in Italy and the need to enhance
field their labour rights and social protec-
Identifying common research inter- tion. Another important issue was the
ests amongst the participants acknowledgment of domestic work as
Plans for the future of the network a site of intercultural exchange, espe-
(immediate and mid-term) cially in everyday practices linked to the
Contact: coordinator@domestic- preparation and consumption of food (the EXPOs overall theme) in a healthy,

Research Network for Domestic Worker Rights

culturally diverse, and environment- place in the centre of the city with the org/myfairhome
friendly manner. In this light, domestic aim to make it visible to the rest of the The principles are:
and care workers should be seen a key society. Different activities took place I will ensure fair wages are paid to
actor in promoting a new type of home as reading a manifest, playing theatre domestic workers in my home (at least
economics inspired by sustainably and pieces, and playing music. Previous to the minimum wage) and that domestic
wellbeing. this activity, a day for political debate workers in my home have reasonable
The RN-DWR was present at this on the visibility of migrant women was work hours and time to rest.
event, due to the participation of organized, and among other issues the I will negotiate the terms and condi-
Sabrina Marchetti (reference person for topic of the ratification of C189 was tions of employment with any domestic
Europe of RN-DWR) and given the fact debated. Both activities were organized workers in my home, ensuring a mutual
that Raffaella Maioni, president of Acli by Red the Mujeres Latinoamericanas y understanding through a written agree-
Colf and main convenor of the event, is del Caribe en Espaa (more information ment.
also a coordinator of our network. I will ensure that domestic work-
ers in my home have access to decent
Spain: Day for Cultural Protest IDWF campaign: Ratify the principles healthcare.
On March 29th, 2015, a Day for Cultural of the Domestic Workers Convention I will actively ensure a work environ-
Protest was organized in Madrid (Spain), in your home ment that is free from abuse, harass-
both to celebrate the International Day IDWF together with the ILO promotes ment and violence.
for Domestic Workers (March 30th) and the My fair home campaign. Employ- I will ensure that domestic workers
ask for the ratification of the Conven- er can commit to the principles of the in my home enjoy decent living condi-
tion 189. The gathering together took Convention 189 online: http://idwfed. tions and a safe, secure and private

Conference Participants Domestic Workers in the Countries of Central Eastern

Europe and Former Soviet Union, Russia, April 2015

Research Network for Domestic Worker Rights

bedroom. calling for the implementation of mini- ity in leadership, organization, and
I will ensure that domestic work- mum wages and the constitution of Do- recruitment. As part of efforts to ensure
ers in my home are able to spend their mestic Workers Welfare Board in every the new union transitions effectively,
free time wherever and however they state. He regretted that India which has a training guide for domestic workers
choose. the largest number of domestic workers organizers and street stewards is being
I pledge to uphold these rights in in the world has not still ratified the ILO developed with support from the ILO.
my home and community Convention 189 to protect domestic Preceding development of the training
workers. He called on the Government guide, a training needs assessment is
India: Domestic Workers celebrate of India to ratify the Convention with- being conducted to appraise the train-
the International Domestic Workers out any further delay. ing needs of the domestic workers in
Day At the end of June, domestic work- relation to leadership, recruitment, and
Domestic Workers in the newly formed ers submitted a demand for compre- organizing, which findings will inform
Telangana State celebrated the Fifth hensive legislation for domestic workers content for the training guide. The key
International Domestic Workers Day by to the government. jointly organised by objective of the training guide is to
declaring themselves a much deserved the State Womens Commission and the assist the domestic workers in employ-
holiday. National Platform for Comprehensive ing a learning strategy as opposed to
Hundreds of domestic workers Legislation for Domestic Workers. a training strategy which limits the
under the banner of Domestic Workers members ability to wholly own and
Forum India (DWFI) and Gruhakarmi- Zambia to develop a training guide implement the knowledge and skills
kula Union (Domestic Workers Union) for domestic workers acquired from such an exercise. This will
celebrated the holiday with public The domestic workers sector in Zambia in turn assist create sustainable impact
meetings, rallies, round tables, and has recently witnessed the merger of for the domestic workers, which is the
other programs. its two domestic workers unions in a overarching goal.
Addressing the gathering in Hy- bid to strengthen capacity for effec-
derabad, Ms. K. Sajaya, well-known free- tive member representation. Erstwhile, ILO Convention 189
lance journalist and film maker called it was revealed that among the main In the past months, Belgium, Chile, and
on domestic workers to begin a move- obstacles to effective organizing facing the Dominican Republic have ratified
ment against the negative portrayal of the unions was lack of adequate capac- ILO Convention 189.
domestic workers in the media, espe-
cially in main stream cinema. Speaking Italy: Conference Care
of the mushrooming placement agen- Work, Food for Life, Acli
cies who recruit domestic workers from Colf, June 2015
remote villages, Mr. Navdeep, a LGBT
rights activist, said domestic workers
themselves should put up a united fight
against exploitation. Ms. Sandhya of
the Progressive Organization of Women
(POW) called on domestic workers to
be united and strong so that their just
demands can be secured.
Bro. Varghese Theckanath s.g., the
founder Convenor of Domestic Workers
Forum India who initiated unionization
of domestic workers in 15 towns, spelt
out the demands of domestic workers,

Research Network for Domestic Worker Rights

search for care/ domestic workers to ac-

Kuwait: Focus group discussion
cess paid work an increased demand
with employers of domestic work-
for domestic workers is expected in
the next decades. However, this can
create tensions between care provided
through quality public services (e.g.
child/ aged care) and by domestic work-
ers: for instance when governments cut
budgets for professional care/ public
services leading to a loss of jobs - which
are relatively better paid and regulated
- and an increased demand for domes-
tic workers. Or in the case of employ-
ers in need of care but who are using
Photo by J Portilho: Approval of Domestic loop holes in legislation leading to the
Workers Act in 2013 in Brazil hiring of (migrant) domestic workers as
au pairs (and paying very poor wages,
bypassing labour legislation, etc).
Please contact: Marieke Koning,
Ireland: Au-pair and childcare WIEGO: Celebrating International
In Ireland, the Migrant Rights Centre Domestic Workers Day with Myrtle 3.2 Research News
Irlenad (MRCI) launched a new paper Witbooi ILO: Latest changes in law and policy
Childcare in the Domestic Work Sec- Myrtle Witbooi discusses in this video On its website, the ILO provides an
tor Whos minding the Children? the importance of ILO Convention 189 interactive map that shows the latest
new analysis of childcare in the hidden in commemoration of the adoption of changes in law and policy concern-
domestic work sector documenting the Convention. ing the protection of domestic work-
new trends in exploitation of migrant celebrating-international-domestic- ers across the world. http://www.ilo.
women working in family homes. It workers-day-myrtle-witbooi-pioneer- org/global/topics/domestic-workers/
notes the growing informality of the ing-activist-movement WCMS_313678/lang--en/index.htm
sector which in the absence of govern-
ment policy has created an informal 3. Research Kuwait: Employers Perspective to-
sector with made up of au pairs and 3.1 Research Ques- wards Domestic Workers
undocumented worker two vulner- tion In April 2015, Project 189, an organiza-
able groups who experience barriers Research on demand for child and tion working to promote the rights of
in accessing their rights. To inform au elderly care and informalization by domestic workers in the Middle East, to-
pairs of their rights under Irish law, Marieke Koning gether with the support of the ILO and
MRCI produced a bookmark translated Marieke Koning is looking for infor- the Kuwait Society for Human Rights
into Spanish and Portuguese. Since mation and exchange regarding the organized a three-day focus group
January we have had 35 new cases of parallel between (increased) demand discussion (FGD) with employers of
au pair exploitation in MRCI. Childcare for child and elderly care provided by domestic workers in Kuwait, aiming at
in the Domestic Work Sector Whos domestic workers and the informalisa- exploring general attitudes and percep-
minding the Children? http://www. tion or formalisation of care/ domestic tions of employers towards domestic work. Estimates of the EU state that workers, including a better understand-
Childcare-Paper-20152.pdf due to ageing societies and women in ing of actual working practices and the

Research Network for Domestic Worker Rights

employment relationship between the regulation of employment agencies, Website:

employer and the domestic worker (see and awareness efforts to address soci- E-mail:
picture). etal practices that reinforce power and Newspaper article on the FGDs: http://
The research conducted through the control over domestic workers.
FGDs revealed that the attitudes of em- Project 189, in order to change the hosts-ILO-in-3-Day-Focus-Group-Dis-
ployers towards domestic workers were attitudes and perceptions towards cussion
often conflicting. For example, it was domestic workers in Kuwait will begin Newspaper article/interview on the
often expressed that domestic workers a new project this summer called FGDs:
are human too, conversely, practices Camera Obscura: Changing perspec-
such as withholding their passport, tives through art, aiming at changing domestics-not-protected-under-labour-
working long hours, not giving a day off perceptions, cultivate empathy and law/
or preventing them to go out was the promote social inclusion whilst empow-
norm and even justified. Furthermore, ering domestic workers through art and 4. Conferences
the research indicated that a major- space. Conference Report: Domestic Work-
ity of these attitudes and practices are To continue working on the protec- ers in the Countries of Central East-
deep-rooted in the society, becoming tion and promotion of the rights of ern Europe and Former Soviet Union:
unquestionable or overlooked. domestic workers in the Middle East, Postsocialist Migrations and Inequal-
To improve the living and working con- Project 189 is looking for partners work- ities, St. Petersburg, April 2015
ditions of domestic workers in Kuwait it ing in the same topic and based in the Several members of the RN-DWR took
will require efforts to include domestic Philippines to begin projects in partner- part in the international conference,
workers into labour law, abolish and ship. If there are any interests please Domestic Workers in the Countries
reform the kafala system, maintain strict contact us at the information below. of Central Eastern Europe and Former


Meeting of the Research Network for Domestic Worker Rights (RN-DWR)

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Room X, R2, International Labour Office, Geneva

The Research Network for Domestic Worker Rights, an international and interdisciplinary
network of reserachers, trade unionists, and activists conducting research on paid domestic
work, invites to a network meeting at the 4th Conference of the Regulating for Decent Work
Interested non-members are welcome to join the meeting!

Topics on the agenda:

Identifying key areas of concern and activities for activist researchers in the field
Identifying common research interests amongst the participants
Plans for the future of the network (immediate and mid-term)

For more information about the RN-DWR: https://www.sozialwissenschaften.uni-

International coordinators:
Helen Schwenken & Lisa-Marie Heimeshoff, IMIS, University of Osnabrck
Claire Hobden, ILO
Raffaella Maioni, Acli Colf, Italy

Research Network for Domestic Worker Rights

Soviet Union: Postsocialist Migrations Boris, Eileen; Jokela, Merita; Undn, Pflegehilfen-in-Schweizer-Privathaush-
and Inequalities, that took place at Megan (2015). Enforcement Strategies alten
the end of April in St. Petersburg. and for Empowerment: Models for the Cali- This book looks at the questions
that was organized by the Centre for fornia Domestic Worker Bill of Rights. how the state takes into account funda-
Independent Social Research (CISR) mental and human rights, when regula-
(see picture). Researchers from mostly documents/EnforcementforEmpower- tion care work in private households
postsocialist countries discussed the mentReport.pdf carried out by migrants and whether
labor rights situation of domestic work- Switzerland follows its obligations in
ers, the gender dimension of domestic Hoerder, Dirk; van Nederveen Meerkerk, this respect. It outlines the current legal
work in postsocialist economies related Elsie, & Neunsinger, Silke (2015, eds.) situation of migrant care workers and
to domestic. work, as well as the ability Towards a Global History of Domestic shows that the exclusion of private
of domestic workers to organize in and Caregiving Workers. Brill. households from the labor law violates
the region. Among the topics being the non-discrimination rule in constitu-
discussed were also the restructuring Humblet, Martine & Hult, Lisa (2015). tional and international law.
of the welfare state in the postsocialist The right to rest for domestic workers
economies and the rise in demand for Setting a floor. ILO. Tolstokorova A. Mary Poppins Comes
domestic workers, especially in the field wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_protect/- Back: The Revival of Paid Domestic
of childcare, and the role of migrants --protrav/---travail/documents/generic- Work in the Informal Labour Market in
filling the increasing demand for do- document/wcms_364744.pdf Ukraine. Sdosteuropa, issue on Infor-
mestic care. mal Labour / Guest Eds. Jrgen Jerger,
Medici, Gabriela Naemi (2015). Migran- Michael Knogler, vol. 62, No.4, 2014,
5.Publications tinnen als Pflegehilfen in Schweizer pp.479-499.
Boris, Eileen & Klein, Jennifer (2015): Privathaushalten Menschenrechtliche
Caring for America: Home Health Work- Vorgaben und staatliche Handlungsp-
ers in the Shadow of the Welfare State. flichten. Zrich: Schulthess Verlag (in
Oxford University Press (Paperback German).
edition). verlag/detail/ISBN-9783725573264/

Contacts: Research Network for Domestic Worker Rights

Contact to the coordinators: Claire Hobden (ILO), Prof. Dr. Helen Schwenken and LisaMarie Heimeshoff (Universities of
Osnabrck, IMIS and Kassel, ICDD), Raffaella Maioni (Acli Colf ):

Asia: Sonal Sharma, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, India (for South Asia):

Europe: Dr. Sabrina Marchetti, European University Institute, Italy:

Latin America: Prof Dr Mary Rosaria Goldsmith Connelly, Universidad Autnoma MetropolitanaXochimilco, Mexico: lati-

North America: Prof Jennifer N. Fish PhD, Old Dominion University, United States: northamerica@domestic-work-research.

Editor of the Newsletter: Lisa-Marie Heimeshoff,