New Hopes, Protections for Domestic Workers

Posted June 16th, 2011 at 12:25 pm (UTC-5)
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The world's domestic workers could soon have better working conditions under a landmark convention.

Delegates at the International Labor Conference in Geneva Thursday adopted a treaty protecting domestic workers' rights.

If approved by member states, it will give domestic workers many of the same basic rights already available to other workers, including reasonable work hours, at least 24-hours of consecutive rest and a limit on in-kind payments.

International Labor Organization Director General Juan Somavia called the adoption of the convention a “breakthrough of great significance.”

The ILO estimates there are at least 53 million domestic workers worldwide but that there could be as many as 100 million.

About 83 percent of the domestic workers are women or girls. Many are also migrants from developing countries.

The United Nations' labor agency says many domestic workers are currently exploited or treated badly. The ILO also says many domestic workers are subjected to physical or mental abuse.

The director of the ILO's conditions or work program says the next challenge will be to ensure that domestic workers are given the rights contained in the convention. But Manuela Tomei says inspectors could be allowed into private homes to verify that the basic standards are being met.