A New Era of Social Justice
for the Worlds’ Domestic Workers
Historic Resolution During UN International Labour Organization 100th Session
(Copyright 2011 Ariel Consulting International)
7 July 2011
Dr. Ariel Rosita King, MPH, MBA, PhD, DTM&H International Federation of University Women, ILO Representative
In the International Labour Organization 100th Session, the charismatic and outspoken leader of the ILO, Director-General Juan Somavia genuinely believes in and promotes “social Justice.” As stated in his report,
“ILO values and policies are needed more than ever. In this context, it is very clear that the Decent Work Agenda and a working ILO Tripartism (government, employers and workers) bring the possibility of better, more ‘inclusive growth, or more peace, more equity and rights, less poverty and more stable development in economies, enterprises, workplaces and, ultimately, in society.”
“In these troubled times, I truly believe that the ILO has the values to support a shift away from a policy paradigm which is both discredited and inefficient. Constructing a new patter of growth through rapid and sustained increases in decent work is urgently needed. I should fully mobilize the representatives of the world of work assembled at the 100 session of the International Labour Conference; it should also fully mobilise the highest political authorities in every country, in regional institution, as well as in multilateral institutions.
“This is a challenge which honours our legacy. But I have no doubt that, if we act with self-assurance on our values and policies, our vision will pave the way for a more prosperous world for all.”
A New Era of Social Justice
Social Justice, is a term that is mostly thought of when talking about the equity of human rights. Social Justice is the foundation of all work for the International Labour Organization. During the 100th Session of the ILO in Geneva, this term transformed into action was apparent when the delegates representing each country voted to formally recognize the “informal economy’ of domestic workers.
In the ILO’s “tripartism” of government, employers and workers, with equal consideration, the fundamental principal of “social justice” allows for the very distinct groups to meet at an access point for the good of all three.
Worldwide there has been increasing recognition, nationally and internationally, of the economic and social value of domestic work and of the need to improve the living and working conditions for the 50-100 million domestic workers.. “It was considered necessary to adopt international standards on this subject given the historical and continued exclusion of domestic worker, mainly women and girls, from labour protection. Setting new standards on domestic work presented an unprecedented opportunity for the ILO to break into the informal economy and deliver decent work to millions of the worlds’ most vulnerable workers” said DG Somavia.
Domestic workers, usually women and girls perform a range of tasks for and in other peoples’ households. They may cook, clean, wash the laundry, and look after children, the elderly or persons with disability, gardeners, guardians or family chauffeurs. They are often excluded, from labour and social protection. Part of the reason for this is that domestic work takes place in the home and involves, to a large extent, tasks that women and girls have traditionally carried out without pay.
The ILO Convention and Recommendation on domestic workers provides legal recognition of domestic work as (formal) work, and extend rights to all domestic workers to prevent violations and abuses. The instruments provide a global framework of minimum standards for extending labour and social protection to domestic workers.
The convention on Domestic workers calls for reasonable hours of work, weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours, a limit on in-kind payment, clear information on terms and conditions of employment, as well as respect of the rights associated with employment, including the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. The Convention on Domestic Workers (2011) was adopted by a vote of 434 with 8 against and 42 abstentions. It states that all domestic workers must have basic labour rights as enjoyed by other workers. The convention come will go into force after it is ratified by two countries.
The Adoption of the Convention on Domestic Workers is the ideal of sustainable development for social justice. In closing, the Director General stated, “the world needs a new era of social justice inspired by a vision of sustainable development.
An era where people’s need, care for our planet Earth and fairness guide our policy making, an era where the benefits of globalization are shared equitably; an era that can spark hope in our youth, creativity in our societies and he credibility of our public and private policies and institutions; an era where the dignity of work is promoted and respected; an era where voice, participation and democracy flourish.
Whether this remains just an idealized vision of a desired future, or become a practical reality that take hold in our societies, will depend in many ways on the courage, conviction, ability and will power of the ILO and it constituents and on our capacity to work together and with others to pave the way for this new era.”
A New Era of Social Justice, Report of the Director-General, International Labour Conference, 100th Session, 2011.
Convention on Domestic Workers (2011) (Provisional record)
PR No. 15A - Text of the Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers, Domestic Workers Provisional Record 15A/1 (2011)
Decent Work for Domestic Workers, Report IV (1) International Labour Conference, 100th Session 2011, first edition 2010.
Decent Work for domestic workers, Report IV (2A) Bilingual edition (English and French) International Labour Conference, 2011.
Decent Work for domestic workers, Report IV (2B) Bilingual edition (English and French) International Labour Conference, 2011.
Give Girls A Chance: Tackling Child Labour, a Key to the Future
Relevant International Instruments
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The International Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women
United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children
Convention on the Rights of the Child
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of the Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
Decent work for Domestic Workers (ILO website)
Office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights
United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime