Press Centre

National Partners unite in call for Gov to ratify Domestic Workers Convention

PRESS RELEASE: 12 December 2012, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland/ Domestic Workers Action Group/SIPTU/Irish Congress of Trade Unions

National partners Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, the Domestic Workers Action Group, SIPTU and Irish Congress of Trade Unions unite today to call on Minister Richard Bruton to commit to ratification of the UN International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on Domestic Work, which the Irish Government, Irish Employers and Irish Trade Unions voted in favour of in Geneva in June 2011.

Today, December 12th is a global day for action for domestic workers rights. Events are taking place in 84 countries worldwide. Trade unionists and activists are urging governments to ratify the convention to protect vulnerable workers in a sector dominated by women, where reports of extreme exploitation and child labour are high.

Hilda Regaspi, MRCI Chairperson and former domestic worker said: “Too many domestic workers are denied their rights. Excessive working hours, low pay and mistreatment are widespread. Thousands of women are kept in domestic servitude across the globe, Ireland included.  The Government should show leadership and prioritise ratifying the convention during our EU presidency next year to demonstrate our commitment to protecting the most vulnerable in our society”.

SIPTU General Secretary, Jack O Connor, said: SIPTU General President, Jack O Connor, said: “SIPTU fully supports the call from the MRCI and other progressive organisations that the Irish government ratifies, without delay, ILO convention 189 on decent work for domestic workers. Domestic workers have an entitlement to respect and dignity in their workplace and in society. It is critical that the value and worth of domestic work is respected in Ireland today. The Irish government ratifying ILO 189 would be an initial step in that direction. However, it is also critical that domestic workers, no different to other workers, organise themselves to continue to seek and demand justice and fair play.”

ICTU General Secretary, David Begg said: "Ireland should take the lead in this matter and be the first EU state to ratify this new ILO Convention, which was supported by a huge majority at the ILO - including the Irish Government, unions and employers.  It is disappointing that such an obvious national consensus on this issue has not resulted in earlier ratification. Early action now would send a very positive signal about Ireland to the wider world.

Notes for Editors:

The National Partners include trade unions and NGOs advocating for the ratification of ILO Convention (no189) on Domestic Work.

For MRCI/DWAG info http://www.mrci.ie/Domestic-Workers/

Visit for info on global campaign http://www.ituc-csi.org/domestic-workers-12-by-12.html

MRCI Domestic Workers Action Group Survey, 2010

40% of domestic workers surveyed do not have an employment contract

38% are paid under the minimum wage (with severe cases as low as €0.25 per hour)

42% do not receive payslips

Two thirds of those surveyed experienced exploitations as a domestic worker in Ireland

30% work Sundays and Bank holidays without extra pay or a day off.

44% raised a complaint with their employer about their unfair treatment and long working hours but their concern was ignored and nothing changed.