Press Centre

On International Women’s Day, Government Must Double Efforts to Ratify the ILO Convention on Domestic Work

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MEDIA RELEASE 08.03.2013

International Women’s Day has its origins in the fight for better pay and conditions for women employed as factory workers. This struggle continues in the collective efforts to realise the rights of all women employed in private homes globally. This group are the world’s most invisible workers, isolated behind closed doors.

Aoife Smith of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland said “Exploitation of domestic workers is happening every day in Ireland. MRCI has come across serious cases involving au pairs, cleaners and carers in private homes and in embassies: domestic workers employed by diplomatic staff are particularly vulnerable, as their employers can hide behind diplomatic immunity.”

In June 2011, the Irish Government voted for the adoption of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, recognising the vulnerability of this group of workers.  To date the Government has not incorporated the convention into Irish law.

Hilda Regaspi chair of MRCI continued, “On International Women’s Day, we are calling on Minister Burton to make a public pledge to ratify the Convention and follow through on the commitment made in 2011. The Government needs to act now to send a message to employers that exploitation of domestic workers will not be tolerated.”


Notes for Editors:

ILO Convention No. 189 (Convention on Domestic Workers)

More information available at

MRCI Domestic Workers Action Group Survey, 2010

The domestic work sector holds the second largest percentage of complaints made to MRCI.

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

38% are paid under the minimum wage (with severe cases as low as €2 per hour)

42% do not receive payslips

Two-thirds of those surveyed experienced exploitation 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.