Domestic workers are a large but mostly invisible workforce in Europe, which is extremely vulnerable to exploitation. Domestic work is not a new phenomenon. But there is a rise in domestic work throughout the EU 27 countries and beyond.
Domestic work is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in Europe. Demographic change and longer life expectancy, irregular and increased working hours, lack of adequate care facilities are all factors that impact the demand for domestic work. Employing a domestic worker is therefore becoming a big feature in the lives of elderly and working European people, many of whom need help in order to combine their professional and family life.
Domestic workers are mostly female workers, many of them from a migrant or ethnic minority background, working for private households in a situation of almost total absence of any (statutory or collectively agreed) protective framework.
The ETUC and domestic workers
The ETUC has an strong record in helping atypical workers such as part-timers and those on temporary contracts. Unions do not only defend the interests of regular workers, but want to reach out to domestic workers and help them to organise. Domestic workers should be recognised for what they do, and not be treated with disrespect, as is too often the case. By joining a union, domestic workers can collectively demand decent living and working conditions.
In April 2005, the ETUC organised an international conference: “Out of the Shadows: “organising and protecting domestic workers in Europe: the role of trade unions ”, which addressed the growing interdependence between the formal and informal economy - and those performing formal or informal work - and the challenges that arise from this for trade unions. The Conference also focused on the need to develop innovative ways to reach out to workers in the ‘shadow’ of the formal economy, especially those providing domestic services in private households, as well as the need to develop a protective framework, by collective bargaining and/or legislative means, for the provision of household services in general.
As part of the follow up to the ETUC Congress engagements taken in Seville (Spain) in May 2007 and reaffirmed in Athens (Greece) in 2011, ETUC carried every year a survey. This year’s survey tackled the issue of decent work for domestic workers, following the adoption of ILO Convention 189 and Recommendation 201.
The issue of domestic work is getting increasing attention at EU and international level. On 17 of June 2011 the ILO Conference adopted Convention 189 , Recommendation 201 and a report of the Committee on Domestic Workers
The ETUC is joining the ITUC (International Trade Union Organisation) “12 by 12” campaign in cooperation with other organisations worldwide, for rights and protection of domestic workers.
While the main objective of the campaign is to mobilise action around the world, it also focus in writing a postcard to MEPs to ratify the ILO Convention C189 - Decent work for domestic workers.
More information on : http://www.ituc-csi.org/travailleur...
See below an outline of references to various materials developed by ETUC, its affiliated members, as well as other European and International organisations, on the specific issue of the domestic workers.
The European Precarious work Portal : http://precariouswork.itcilo.org/
ETUC Affiliated members
FNV (Netherlands Trade Union Confederation): Informal economy "From marginal work to core business"
The ITUC action guide "Decent work, decent life for domestic workers"
The European Resolution B7/029/2011on the proposed ILO convention supplemented by a recommendation on domestic workers