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DOMESTIC WORKERS CLAN

by
Ágora Association
Ágora is now working on an Integrated Project (IP) TENCompetence Project “Building The
European Network for Lifelong Competence Development.”

CLAN – Continuous Learning for Adults with Needs


134649-LLP-1-2007-1-IT-GRUNDTVIG-GMP
Grant Agreement 2007-3569/001-001
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any
use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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CLAN PROJECT
Obstacles and barriers to the training in groups of adults involved in works
characterized by inflexible time management and organized during hours that would
generally be dedicated to social life.

DOMESTIC WORKERS CLAN

History
If we take a look at domestic workers history in Catalunya, before the 60´s, a great
number of women from outside Barcelona migrated to the city to work for the
bourgeois families of Barcelona.

Between the 60´s and 70´s, because of the Civil War at the country, internal
migrations from other communities inside the country took place, most of them from
Andalucía and Extremadura, and also from Galicia and the Castilian zone. All these
women came as internal workers to survive in a country that became poor because of
the dictatorship.

Nowadays, domestic workers are in majority immigrant women.


There are a lot of factors that has got immigrant women into this situation. Spain had
over the last years an immigration “boom”, particularly from South America, the North
of Africa and the East Europe. This means that the jobs nationals don´t want to do,
now are jobs the immigrants are doing. This is a market which is open since there is a
supply, they cannot get into other fields but they can get into this one. It is an informal
field of work, it is not governed by contracts, or by the social services, or by the same
surveillance as that imposed on other areas, such as in companies. Access to
employment usually happens through personal relationships, friends and the social
network.

According to the Yearbook of Statistics on Immigration of 2006, migrant women


registered for the Special Regime for Domestic Workers in Spain come mainly from
Latin America. More than half of the 165.835 domestic workers are from Latin America,
approximately 63%. The most representative countries are: Ecuador (41,674),
Colombia (21,025), Bolivia (13.061). The second largest group is from Europe and in
particular from Romania (22,245) and Bulgaria (5,262). From Africa. Morocco (9,714)
is the country from which the highest number of female immigrants arrive and from

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Asia, the Philippines is the country where most of the female migrants come from
(4,399).
Of these, 60,5% of Domestic Workers are immigrant women and 50,7% are Spanish
women. According to a research by the Nacional Women´s Intitute, 45% of immigrant
Domestic Workers are females.

According to data provided by IMSERSO (2004) half of all carers for the elderly, for
example, carry out their duties without a contract. It must be taken into account that
domestic work is the sector in which the highest numbers of women work irregularly,
which also happens to a large extent in the case of Spanish women (Instituto de la
Mujer, 2005). Eventhough, it is proved that national and regional Domestic Workers
have a better working situation than immigrants.

Domestic Workers sustain the city’s families and homes. They enable parents and
families to work and have leisure time knowing that their children, elderly, and homes
are taken care of. Domestic workers also enable their employer to meet the demanding
hours required for the smooth functioning and productivity of the professional sectors.
To hire immigrant women supposes an enlargement of 0,8% on the national
production.

Description of the Clan


Our Clan consists on women working as Domestic Workers in Catalunya. The group is
composed by women from the region (Catalunya), nationals (Spain) and immigrants:

-Domestic Workers hired by companies not necessarily with a contract or social


security.
-Domestic Workers working independently without a contract or isurance.
-Domestic Workers working and living inside the patron house.

Our Domestic Workers group includes nannies, baby nurses, housecleaners, elder care
providers, housekeepers, elderly companions and cooks. These are workers who live in
their employer’s homes as well as liveout workers, and it is of course an ethnically
diverse group.
Most of them don´t have an academic certification and they are between 30 and 65
years old.

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Domestic Workers Needs
Via domestic work women, either by looking after the elderly or cleaning homes or
doing a little bit of everything, are more able to find work but they also find it more
difficult to find better jobs. The work conditions were worse in the past for the elder
ones, because they had to work when they were young on a narrow minded society
ran by a military government. This supposes a lack of confidence they carry around
when it comes to find better jobs too.

Domestic Workers agree when it comes to their needs as a group, that their roles
involve a lack of power, respect and fair working conditions.
These so called working conditions, very often rely in exploitation and oppression. We
are talking here about a collective that usually suffers abuse by their employers, and
as a group need to get organized and be part of projects that help them conciliate
these working conditions.

An overview of exclusionary labour laws illustrates the explicit legislative discrimination


against domestic workers, while an economic history of domestic work and analysis of
present day global pressures that impact the industry illustrate structural dynamics
that foster worker abuse. Working without contracts, low salaries, excess of working
hours... These are some of the characteristics of this type of work developed by
Domestic Workers. These conditions get worse when the worker is an immigrant and
frightens to demand about their rights. In these cases, the employer demands rely on
fields with lack of dignity.

Domestic work forms the invisible backbone of the cities economy.


The wages domestic workers earn cannot cover the high cost of living. Domestic
workers lack basic labour and health protections and often face exploitative work
conditions that go largely unmonitored.

Survey results clearly point to the need for industry standards that will
ensure fair labour practices, recognition, and humane treatment. But, public debate on
this issue is practically non-existent. Even the social image of female migrants is
clearly connected to domestic work. There have been no significant awareness
campaigns, debates, no battles to help them, nor even information about the reality
these women have to face.

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Domestic workers feel they need more skills to overcome difficulties in their every day
life and bridge the gap between their working life with their personal lives. There is a
clear need on enhancing the workers self esteem, on reinforcing their skills and give
them more education on their free time.

Schedules
• Women working on their own, said they had some freedom in their working
hours, but this entails economic instability and lack of opportunities. Some of
them can get paid every week. Some of them receive only between 8 or 10
euros an hour.
• Women hired by a cleaning company said they have a fixed scheduled but the
company sets the hours. They also have poor working conditions. They make
also between 8 and 10 euros an hour.
• Immigrants working and living in their patrons houses have little freedom to
choose their working hours, and usually they have to be constantly at their
patrons disposal. Most of them get paid only for 8 hours a day and have to
serve the patrons all they long.

Conclussions of the FOCUS GROUP


-All women have to work without contracts.
-They all have low salaries. (Between 8 and 10 euros an hour)
-They can´t find a balance in the working hours. They either have excess of working
hours or too little hours that they can´t make enough money.
-These women have a lack of self confidence when it comes to get better working or
life conditions for themselves.
-Even all women have assisted and participated in congresses as speakers and some
are literacy students and literacy teachers; most of them are still not completely aware
of the obstacles for their own social or cultural growth. If they are aware, they don´t
know what to do to improve their professional work or social life.
-Most wishes are related to get a higher education.
-They all are aware that to get trained in computer skills would help them to improve
“somehow”.

Interviewees own conclussions

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-All the interviewees concluded that the working conditions are not like
before on the 50´s, 60´s and 70´s.
Now they feel there are more opportunities but still domestic work is in most
ways an exploitation work.
-They are a bit scared of new technologies and they need to prove themselves
that it is ok to make mistakes and that they can learn, that it is not that
difficult.
-They think they have to learn through basic tools, and basic things. They also
said that when they are alone they don´t fear to make mistakes and feel more
confident.
-Most of them don´t know how to use Internet or even their own mobile
phone. They all want to learn how to use technologies.
-They really want to reconcile work and trainning schedules but they need
more awareness. They think this would take a long time and they would need
patience. They also want to improve their working conditions.
-They want more centres where to go and study after work.

Best Practices

Organizations doing Best Practices


1. SURT, Women’s Association for Labor Insertion
Surt began in 1993 as a non-profit association with the objective of making the
processes of incorporation into the job market easier for women, especially those who,
for reasons of social, cultural and also personal context, they find themselves in
situations of great vulnerability. They do several courses to train women.
-Courses in gender training. Introduction to insertion methodologies from a gender
perspective:
Learning has to be considered in terms of acquisition of abilities and not as a passive
retention of disciplinary content. From this perspective, learning fundamentally consists
of constructing meanings and attributing sense to that which is learned from personal
experience and from knowledge, feelings and values with which each person
approaches the contents and activities that she must acquire and work at.
It is necessary to value the women’s specific experiences and learning; questioning the
socially imposed gender roles and valuing women’s activity in the domestic sphere as

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socially necessary work, and in consequence, valuing their learning as significant and
transferable to a work context.

Gender conditions the women’s connection to the job market. This reality is what
directs the gaze to an analysis of employability, which makes, upon analyzing the
structural factors that are affecting the woman’s connection—one specific woman—,
those elements that are significant from a gender perspective be incorporated. For
example, discrimination factors in connection to the job market.
Gender perspective also means supporting the processes of change generally involved
in the insertion processes of women, in that for many, modifying their work or
professional situation brings with it changes in other spheres of their life, implies
modifying directly or indirectly, their role in the family domain.
Taking these processes into consideration, recognizing the full value and significance
they have for women, is a fundamental component of the tutorial activity.
For learning to be meaningful it is necessary to establish relations between that which
is learned and that which is known and the surroundings, thus easing the transfer of
this knowledge and experience to contexts different from those in which they were
learned or experienced.

-Labor insertion directed at those collectives who find themselves in situations of


exclusion from the job market must put a special emphasis on the development of the
abilities and personal resources necessary to give solidity to its social and labor
insertion process, strengthening the ability of self-training and crossover of the abilities
acquired and developed in different domains to the work context.
The focus on abilities is closely linked to the gender perspective. The methodologies
directed towards developing abilities facilitate while giving value to the training carried
out by the women in nonformal settings fundamentally connected with the
responsibilities in caring for people and the organization of this realm. Thus, the social
value of the work women do in the reproductive environment is made visible, reversing
the systematic devaluation dynamic still present in the socially dominant imagery and
practice. Through the methodology of abilities this training can be made visible and,
above all, they acquire value as significant abilities-capabilities in the work
environment.

This position is the basis for the different activities and projects they have put into
operation over the years. At the same time, work experience itself has given them

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important elements of reflection that they have incorporated into the content of
different activities and programs, looking for new ways, new models, which has
allowed them to come closer to the objectives they have brought up.

-The Personal Itineraries of Insertion have as an objective to define and execute


the professional project starting with one-on-one and group tutorial support, placing
special emphasis on the development of the participants’ professional abilities. They
are flexible itineraries that offer informational, guidance, and support activities. They
are directed at improving the chances of employability.

2. Crea – University of Barcelona Research Centre


Socio-labour Insertion Alliance “Anem per feina” (“Let’s get to work”)
This non-profit organisation was set up in 1998. It has a global programme for the
social and labour insertion of women, especially those who experience the most
difficulties. The specific aims of the organisation are:
- To encourage social and labour insertion through access to work with decent
conditions.
- To monitor the process of each woman in accordance with the situation.
- To ensure continuing training and acquisition of social skills for women.
- To make workers aware of the situation, their rights and duties, and the importance
of paying social security contributions.
- To promote the participation of women and their families.
This organisation realised that women need to find a job immediately, and after that
there would be the opportunity to promote training and other activities.
We carried out domestic work from the beginning. Other organisations have
reservations about this field. We decided to support it, and the idea that it should be
regularised, and to try to make women aware of their rights, their need to claim social
security, the fact their hours should be limited.
Therefore, this organisation provides a labour exchange which specialises in providing
domestic work and care services for the elderly. Later it incorporated businesses and
other services.
According to the organisation’s 2005 Report, out of 395 new job offers that were
provided, 264 were successfully filled, and out of the 87 women who participated for
the first time in the insertion Programme, 76 women had access to a first job.
It also has a Labour Mediation Service for mediation between women and their
employers, available from the first contact until the end of the working relationship.

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Through an agreement with the Catalan Institute for Women in two cities, this
government institution directs all the requests they receive towards the Socio-labour
insertion Alliance.
Furthermore, the organisation organises a weekly women’s group in which women get
to know each other, have discussions, and improve their abilities and skills.

3. AMIC: Associació d’Ajuda Mutua als Immigrants de Catalunya (Association


for Mutual Assistance for Immigrants in Catalunya)
This is a non-profit organisation that provides social and labour integration for
immigrants, especially non-EU immigrants. It was founded in 1993, and is linked to the
trade union UGT (General Workers Union).

One of the services that it provides is a guidance service for migrant people that helps
make their legal situation independent. The association also facilitates training in order
to improve their opportunities.
About 50-60 migrant women who are job hunting use this service each month. Once
again, many of them come looking for domestic work because they are undocumented.
Most of the women who use the service are young and have university degrees. The
association encourages these women to get their degrees recognised and look for
better jobs.

AMIC also networks with other migrant organisations, keeps in contact with public
administration and trade unions, and promotes the participation of the migrants.

4. Asociación Mujeres Latinas Sin Fronteras (Association of Latin American Women


without borders)
This organisation offers a framework for meeting, welcoming and providing integral
training to women who have emigrated from Latin America. It also builds new social
networks and helps them overcome the sadness and pain of having left their country.
There is a social worker that offers advice, and there are also over 60 volunteers in the
association.

When women have just arrived and they are not familiar with the new context, they
can enrol in a course that this association organises, which includes cooking, house
cleaning, general skills and knowledge necessary for the labour market.

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The association helps provide contacts for employment, and fights for justice and
competitive salaries, even for undocumented migrant women. It also provides a labour
mediation service. When an employer does not accept the conditions, the women do
not accept the job and the mediation service will help resolve the conflict.

-Ágora Association
Ágora is now working on an Integrated Project (IP) TENCompetence Project “Building
The European Network for Lifelong Competence Development.” There are 15 partners
proceeding from 9 countries which are mainly research centres, universities and
companies. It has started on December 2005 and will end on November 2009. In the
framework of the project Ágora is setting up two pilots which aim at implementing,
testing and evaluating the TENCompetence infrastructure.
The Ten Competences Project is a pedagogical model in their ability to support
competence development and lifelong learning of adults in languages and information
and communication technologies (ICT).

Participants are expected to reinforce and improve their competence level in languages
and ICT according to their interests and needs. They are also expected to share
knowledge and view with the aim of practicing and developing new knowledge.

This is one of the main areas on which Agora is focused. Agora intends to facilitate the
inclusion of adults into the active fabric of current society, in which ICT and languages
are of the most important in order not to be left out. The TENCompetence
Infrastructure is mainly tested as a tool for developing ICT and language (English and
Spanish) competences due to the intrinsic motivation to learn (some participants may
also have professional re-training objectives). The target participants are people who
want to share knowledge, skills, perspectives and views with others in order to practice
and develop new knowledge. A first version of the pilot with the TENCompetence
integrated infrastructure will be run in 2008. A second version of the pilot will be
performed in 2009.

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