Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East

Return to media Posted on Feb 27 2013

The ILO’s landmark Convention No. 189 reinforces basic rights of decent work for domestic workers, who are traditionally excluded from labor legislation. The ITUC launched its 12 by 12 campaign in December 2011 to realize the Convention’s ratification in 12 countries by 12-12-12 as well as to unionize domestic workers globally.

In partnership with the International Domestic Worker’s Network, Human Rights Watch, Migrant Forum Asia, and others, the campaign galvanized activity in over 50 countries. The campaign’s concrete achievements included ratification of the convention by 8 countries. Several other nations also amended legislation to include protections for domestic workers. Additionally, new domestic worker unions were formed in Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Angola, and Sri Lanka. Worldwide, more domestic workers joined unions to protect and promote their rights. The ITUC’s specific achievements and actions in over 50 countries can be found in their 2013 newsletter.

While 2012 has ended, the campaign continues and is now active in 89 countries. One new initiative will coincide with March 8′s International Women’s Day. Alongside the ILO and the UN, the ITUC is urging nations and individuals to mobilize against violence towards women and girls. Improved and enforced laws that redress violence against females is a critical component of the campaign as women comprise an estimated 83% of domestic workers. These women are vulnerable to abuse because of the private nature of domestic work, which is furthermore exacerbated by the paucity in legal protections.

With the exception of Bahrain, the GCC proscribes trade union activity. This prevents migrant and domestic workers from engaging directly with governments and employers to secure their essential labor rights. However, any individual can participate in the 12 by 12 campaign as well as the March 8 initiative. Learn more about joining the campaign by emailing equality@ituc-csi.org or by visiting the 12 by 12 Facebook page.

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Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East