PRESS RELEASE: 18 May 2007
Code of Practice is Only the First Step.
The Domestic Workers Support Group (DWSG) of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) is encouraged by the development of a new Code of Practice for Protecting Persons Employed in Other People’s Homes signed today by Minister for Labour Affairs, Mr Tony Killeen. The DWSG believes that this is the first step towards tackling the ongoing exploitation of domestic workers and recognising the need to protect women employed in the private home.
MRCI has been working for many years with migrant domestic workers and has highlighted the exploitation that this group has experienced in Ireland. In 2004 MRCI established the DWSG, which is made up of migrant women employed in the private home as carers and childminders who have come together to improve their living and working conditions and to end exploitation. As such the DWSG has been instrumental in making this Code a reality and putting it on the public agenda. According to Edel McGinley, coordinator of the DWSG, “we continually see women employed in the private home being coerced and mistreated, with large numbers of women reporting exploitation and seeking our assistance. This is an issue that will not be solved overnight”.
The DWSG believes that the Code encourages good practice and helps increase awareness of current employment legislation. It highlights specific issues, for example, the unacceptability of confiscating a domestic worker’s passport. However, Lot Gernan, member of the DWSG explains, “while this Code addresses some of the most shocking violations in this sector, it is only aspirational. An employer’s behaviour will only change when there are enforcement mechanisms in place”. The DWSG is further concerned about how the content of the Code of Practice will be communicated to employers in this sector.
The DWSG feels that the long term solution lies in the development of real laws specific to those employed in the private home, with real enforcement mechanisms. These laws must provide for sanctions and fast effective remedies to redress. The DWSG is calling on Minister Killeen to set up a Joint Labour Committee and establish new laws to protect women in this sector.
The Code of Practice was developed in conjunction with MRCI’s DWSG, ICTU, and SIPTU. It was negotiated in Social Partnership and agreed in Towards 2016.