Govt has failed Domestic workers, says Union boss

The Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) will take to the streets of Bridgetown to demand that Government honour its four-year-old promise to protect the rights of domestic workers.

General secretary Toni Moore told Barbados TODAY that members would be marching to support that category of female workers, ahead of International Women’s Day which will be celebrated worldwide on Sunday, March 8.

She said that while Barbados was among the first countries signing on to the International Labour Organization convention on decent work for domestic workers, no action had been taken to protect those women.

Moore said the union was disappointed that Government was so hesitant to make good on its promise.

BWU general secretary Toni Moore says the union wants Government to fulfill promises for domestic workers and to implement sexual harassment legislation.
BWU general secretary Toni Moore says the union wants Government to fulfill promises for domestic workers and to implement sexual harassment legislation.

Noting that the theme for Sunday is Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity, Picture it, Moore said: “The whole focus of domestic work fits squarely into that because if you have a situation in which so many domestic workers across Barbados still don’t have access to having their rights adhered to, that they still don’t have the protection other workers would have, then they are not empowered, they are marginalized.”

“One of the things that the Barbados Workers’ Union will be doing tomorrow as we march through the streets of The City is to bring attention to the issues of domestic workers and the fact that we need to have ratification of the convention as was committed some four years ago,” the general secretary added.

The union held a similar march three years ago when Sir Roy Trotman was at the helm of the union.

Moore, the first female BWU boss, said the union had presented a resolution to Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer, calling for her ministry to “make haste and follow through on its commitment to have Barbados be among the first countries ratifying what was a ground-breaking convention, and to have in place a piece of legislation that would offer protection for so many domestic workers across the island”.

She said there would be other matters on the agenda for tomorrow’s march but insisted that it was important that the powers that be, and Barbadians in general, be reminded that domestic workers still have little to no rights.

“What we will be doing as part of our focus – not the entire focus – would be again calling attention to what we previously demanded, asking for recognition to be given to the [ILO] commitment,” she said.

The 2011 convention, which describes a domestic worker as any person engaged in domestic work within an employment relationship, calls on countries to implement  measures to ensure the effective promotion and protection of the human rights of all domestic workers.

Barbados is required to respect, promote and realize freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour; the effective abolition of child labour; and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

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