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Domestic workers increase representation in CSC Food union in Belgium

CSC-Alimentation & Services is the domestic workers representative union in Belgium

As the trade union responsible for the domestic service sector, the food and service workers’ union, CSC-Alimentation & Services, has always striven to defend the interests of domestic workers. Domestic workers today do not always have the same rights as other workers. Among key actions to improve their status, the following are of particular note:

 Participation in the great demonstration in 1982 to demand better social legislation;
 Active involvement in the campaign organized by Wereldsolidariteit (World Solidarity) to mobilize public and political opinion on the international status of domestic staff;
 The inclusion of these workers in an effective joint commission which enabled them to enjoy a series of benefits;
 The establishment of collaboration with a body charged, among other things, with studying the prospects of improving the status of domestic workers and their training needs.

CSC-Alimentation & Services is counting heavily on the adoption by the International Labour Organization of a Convention on domestic work to improve its status in Belgium.

At the same time, CSC-Alimentation & Services is also monitoring the titres-services sector. Here it is quite a different story. In 2001, the Federal Government decided to introduce service vouchers or titres-services. The objective was to encourage neighbourhood services, combat informal labour, ensure training of workers (low-skilled, women,… ) and satisfy personal needs which had not previously been encountered. The new system came into being in January 2004. The principle is simple. In exchange for titres-services (a kind of cheque which can be obtained from an approved company), users (private individuals only) can buy in certain household services: home cleaning including window-cleaning, laundry, ironing, small sewing tasks and cooking, shopping, transport of persons with reduced mobility, and ironing including repair of clothes to be ironed. These services are provided by approved companies and the company’s workers have a proper social status.
The attractive price (the price of a titre-services does not represent the true cost of the service and is also tax-deductible) and trends in society (organization of work, growing number of homes where both parents work, increase in the number of elderly,…) mean that the system has been a growing success.

Even if at the current stage it is not possible to combine these two systems completely (domestic workers and titres-services workers do not carry out exactly the same role in the families/households which they help), the titres-services model can serve as a source of inspiration in securing a decent status for domestic workers.

Thanks to its involvement on behalf of domestic and titres-services workers, CSC-Alimentation & Services has seen a significant increase in its membership in these sectors.