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Decent Work – not for one day only

7 October 2013 Editorial
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On October 26-28, the International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN) will hold its first congress and move from a network to a formal international federation. One of the central issues on the congress agenda is organizing. The adoption of ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers has been a tremendous stimulus for domestic workers to organize and fight for their rights.

New domestic workers unions have been formed, existing ones reinforced and the mutual support and solidarity through the regional and international networks have helped to raise their collective voice and strength. (Read more on www.idwn.info, www.wiego.org)

Ten countries have so far ratified C189: Bolivia (15/04/13), Germany (20/09/13), Guyana (09/08/13), Italy (22/01/13), Mauritius (13/09/12), Nicaragua (10/01/13), Paraguay (07/05(13), Philippines (05/09/12), South Africa (20/06/13), Uruguay (14/06/12). Others have introduced or improved labour legislation for domestic workers such as Argentina, Brazil, Bahrain, Thailand, Singapore, Venezuela, Zambia.

Despite steady progress in organizing domestic workers and progressing ratification of C189, enormous work remains to be done. Many millions of domestic workers are non-declared or undocumented migrant workers without any legal protection against abusive, feudal employers. A majority of the estimated 100 million domestic workers worldwide - whether migrants or nationals - are still lacking fundamental labour and human rights, and 15 million domestic workers are children.

It is therefore urgent for the labour movement as a whole to reinforce its support of the C189 ratification campaign (www.ituc-csi.org) and to support domestic workers and their organizations in each and every country. It is only through collective trade union pressure that governments will ratify the convention and only through organizing that domestic workers can finally make use of the rights stipulated in C189.