Workers Unite

MONTEVIDEO, October 26, 2013 (AFP) – Unions representing domestic workers met here Saturday to urge countries to ratify a year-old international convention that sets minimal labor standards for domestic workers. So far only 10 countries have ratified the International Convention on Domestic Workers, which went into effect a year ago in September.

But Myrtle Witbooi, president of the International Domestic Workers Network, said, “We are entering a new era for domestic workers.”

Witbooi’s organization, which represents 300,000 domestic workers worldwide, is promoting the convention, which gives domestics the right to a minimum wage, daily and weekly rest hours and freedom to choose where they live and how they spend their leave.

“The International Labor Organization convention is for everyone, but if people don’t know about it, it can’t be invoked,” she told AFP.

“We need to educate (workers) and we need to find those countries that don’t even have national laws, so they can pass laws and ratify the convention,” she said.

Uruguay, which was the first country to ratify the convention in 2012, is hosting the first international conference on domestic work.

“It’s already in force here,