Joint Declaration on Celebrating May Day 2010 as
“Asian Domestic Workers’ Day”
1 May 2010
“We are not begging for special treatment. We, domestic workers, are claiming our basic rights. We are demanding equal treatment and proper recognition as workers and members of society. We will continue to fight abuses and exploitation. We want freedom from slavery.” ~Sringatin, Chairperson, Federation of Asian Domestic Workers’ Union (FADWU, Hong Kong)
May Day 2010 will mark 124 years since 300,000 workers first walked out of their jobs demanding an 8-hour workday. The '8-hour standard work' is one of the hallmarks that differentiate workers from slaves. At its very first session in 1919, the ILO formalized this principle into international law by adopting ILO Convention #1. In 1999, ‘decent work hours’ was identified as a key component of ILO’s decent work principles.
Sadly, a century-and-a-quarter later, one of the most vulnerable sections of the working class – the domestic (household) workers – have been denied decent work hours and other basic labour standards (decent wage, regular rest days, retirement/social security, reproductive/family rights, etc.). ILO Convention #1 and many other key ILO Conventions exclude domestic workers from their coverage. It is long overdue to renew the revolutionary spirit of May Day 1886 in the modern-day context – by making these basic standards universally applicable to all workers, especially the vulnerable, like the domestic workers.
Therefore, trade unions and domestic workers’ organizations, together with migrant, women, and civil society and partner advocates, have come together to spearhead the international campaign for the rights and recognition of domestic workers. As part of this joint campaign, we have agreed to jointly celebrate May Day 2010 as the “Asian Domestic Workers’ Day’ to emphasize the core labour rights principles and highlight our call for the proper recognition of the rights, value, and status of domestic workers as workers.
May Day 2010 is at the threshold of the global labour landscape because the 2011 International Labour Conference is expected to adopt the ILO Convention on Domestic Work. This new international treaty, like Convention #1 more than a century ago, will put a legal face to the hundreds of millions of domestic workers around the world. An ILO Convention will formally define domestic work as work, and will make all the fundamental labour rights and decent work principles equally applicable to domestic workers. The adoption of the Convention will help address the stark invisibility of domestic work as a form of employment.
Housework is one of the oldest and most fundamental duties performed by a majority of women because women are traditionally considered as nurturers of the family. For centuries, it has been work that is informal, unregulated, unpaid or undervalued, unprotected and unrecognized. Domestic workers enable employers and their families to participate in the productive processes of the larger society.
The intensification of free-market globalization in the last 50 years saw a need for domestic workers on a global scale, giving rise to multi-billion dollar migrant domestic work (MDW) industry. Millions of MDWs have taken over house care for families both in the global North and South, and have created new economic opportunities for other workingwomen in receiving countries. Domestic work has also generated economic benefits for sending countries, mainly through remittances than enable these countries to survive many economic crises. Migrant domestic work is now one of the main occupational preferences of women workers seeking to survive steadily disappearing livelihood opportunities at home.
Due to the nature of the job, the situation of domestic workers has remained precarious, vulnerable, and invisible. The unique challenges faced by domestic workers start from the day of recruitment. Live-in local and migrant domestic workers are particularly susceptible to various forms of maltreatment at the workplace and have little or no channels of redress. Migrant domestic workers are preyed on by opportunistic recruiters, employers, and corrupt officials. Vulnerabilities to forced labour, slavery-like conditions and trafficking increase as domestic workers end their employment and search for new work. Domestic workers, especially at the local level, also involve a substantial number of children, which is another major concern of the ILO.
The ILO has recognized the urgent need to establish minimum standards of “human dignity and self-respect” for domestic workers as early as 1965, in a resolution that cited the lack of social and legal protection for them. However, until today, this has not progressed into binding standards or legal commitments. Part of this inaction is the prevailing notion that domestic work does not constitute formal employment – i.e. it is an extension of women’s unpaid reproductive (nurturing) role; domestic workers also predominantly come from lower classes or castes especially in Asian societies. An ILO Convention will help break these gender and class stereotypes, and lay down the basis for an employer-employee relationship in domestic work.
We, the undersigned, call for the adoption by 2011 of an International Convention on Domestic Work, together with clear guidelines on monitoring and implementation, reporting and compliance mechanisms. We believe an ILO Convention will significantly contribute to the reduction of slavery-like conditions, abuse, violence, exploitation, inequality, and discrimination against women and domestic workers. It will help reduce the worst forms of child labour, the stigmatization and criminalization of migrant domestic workers, and racial and ethnic discrimination.
On May Day 2010, we call on everyone to support and celebrate the “Asian Domestic Workers’ Day.” We, the domestic workers’ groups, trade unions, migrant organizations, women’s groups, civil society and advocates in Asia and globally will march together in solidarity as we demand for the recognition and respect of rights, value, contributions, and status of domestic workers as workers and equal members of society.
Domestic Work is Work!
Domestic Workers are Workers!
Domestic Work is NOT Slavery!
Adopt an ILO Convention on Domestic Work in 2011!
SIGNATORIES: ACILS*ACV-CSC Food and Services*Alliance for Progressive Labor-Philippines (APL)*Alliance for Progressive Labor-Hong Kong (APL-HK)*Alliance of Peoples Movement*ALTSEAN Burma!*Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY)*Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Center (AJWRC)*Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)*Asian Domestic Workers Network (ADWN) *Asian Migrant Domestic Workers’ Alliance (ADWA) *Asian Migrant Centre (AMC) *ASPEK Indonesia*Association for Community Development (ACD)*Association for the Advancement of Feminism*Association Internationale des Charites (AIC)*Association of Tenaga Kerja Indonesia (ATKI) *Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)*Babaylan-Europe *Blacklist for Recruitment Agency and Employers who Violate Migrants’ Rights Alliance *CACEH*Cambodia Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW)*CARAM-Asia*Center for Education and Communication*Center for Migrant Advocacy Philippines (CMA-Phils) *Centre for Human Rights and Development*CFDT*Children Women in Social Service and Human Rights (CWISH) *Chinese Progressive Association San Francisco (CPA)*Coalition for Migrants’ Rights (CMR) *Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach*Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers*Committee for Asian Women (CAW) *Confederacao Caboverdiana dos Sindicatos Livres (CCSL)* CONLACTRAHO*Domestic Workers Rights Union *Federation of Asian Domestic Workers’ Unions in Hong Kong (FADWU) *Federation of Indonesian Women Legal Aid*Federation of Trade Unions-Burma (FTUB)*Filipino Domestic Workers’ Union (FDWU) *Finnish Philippine Society*FKUI SBSI*FNV Bondgenoten*Focus on the Global South – India, Philippines, Thailand*Food, Beverage & Tobacco Senior Staff Association (FOBTOB)*Friends of Women *FSPMI*FSPSI Reformasi*FSPTSK*Ghana Trade Union Congress*Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW)*Global Network Asia *Global Workers Justice Alliance *HOME Singapore*Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) *Hong Kong Domestic Workers General Union (HKDWGU)*Hong Kong Women’s Coalition on Equal Opportunities* Hong Kong Women Workers’ Association*Hsinchu Catholic Diocese Migrants and Immigrants Service Center (HMISC)*Human Rights Watch*I-MEI Committee-Nederland *Imparsial-Indonesia *India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN)*Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Union (IMWU) *Institute of Social Development*International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN) *International Labor Rights Forum*International Working Group for Domestic Workers (IWG-DW) *International Young Christian Workers – Asia Pacific (IYCW ASPAC)*IUF*IUF Asia Pacific*IUF Nigeria Council *Jala PRT (National Network for Advocacy for Domestic Workers) *Justice for Domestic Workers (J4DW)*Karmojibi Nari (KN)*Karnataka Domestic Workers’ Union*KASAPI-Greece *Korean House Managers Cooperative*KSBSI *Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN)*Labour Education Foundation*LBT APIK Jakarta* Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC)*Mary Star of the Sea Seafarers Family Association (MaSSSFA)*Migrant Care*Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) *Migrant Rights Centre Ireland*Migrants Rights International (MRI) *Migrant Women’s Club, Beijing*Miriam College-Women and Gender Institute (WAGI)*Missionary Society of St. Columban (MSSC)*National Campaign for Domestic Workers-India*National Commission on Violence Against Women*National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) *National Domestic Workers Movement*National Human Rights Society of Malaysia (HAKAM)*National Workers Congress*Nepal Institute of Development Studies (NIDS)*Nirmala Niketan *OXFAM*Penn Thozhilalargal Sangam (Women Workers’ Union, Chennai) *Philippine Solidarity Group-Netherlands *POURAKHI*Public Services Workers Union of TUC, Ghana*Raging Citizens Act Now (RCAN)*Red Flag Women’s Movement *RESPECT Network in Europe*Rural Women’s Liberation Movement*Rural Women’s Network Nepal (RUWON Nepal)*Rural Workers Movement*Sahabat Sekerja (SAHAJA)*Samahan at Ugnayan ng mga Manggagawang Pantahanan sa Pilipinas (SUMAPI)*SBMI *SBSI*Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA)*Service Union United (PAM)*Solidaritas Migran Scalabrini Philippines INC.*Solidaritas Perempuan (Women’s Solidarity for Human Rights)*South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU)*Southeast Asia Women Watch (SEAWWatch)*Syndicat CFDT des Salaries Particulier Employeur d’Ile de France*Syndicat des Travailleurs des Enterprises de Boissons (SYNTEB)*Tamil Nadu Dalit Women’s Movement*Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum*Trade Union Congress*Transient Workers Count Too*Tunas Mulia Domestic Workers Union, Yogyakarta *UNI Global Union – Malaysian Liaison Council (UNI-MLC) Migrant Workers Help Desk*UNIMIG Indonesia*United Development Party (PPP)*United Federation of Danish Workers (Fagligt Faelles Forbund/3F)*United Migrant Domestic Workers in the Netherlands (UMDWs-NL) *UNITEHERE *Unlad Kabayan*WARBE Development Foundation*WIEGO*Women Access to Entrepreneurship Development and Training (WAEDAT)*Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC Nepal)*Women Workers Trade Union*Workers’ Education Association of Finland*YASANTI* Individuals: Ario Adityo*Rev. Hans Lutz*Jose Dimaandal*Dr. Tiwari