From 3 o’clock today – March 8 International Women’s Day – domestic workers planned to re-enact being suffragettes outside parliament to highlight the modern quest for equality.
The initiative was staged by members of Justice 4 Domestic Workers (J4DW) who donned the period clothing with the aim of connecting the events of a century ago with the modern day causes promoted by IWD of equality, recognition and respect.
Justice 4 Domestic Workers (J4DW) is a domestic worker led group formed in 2009 affiliated with the union, Unite. It has more than a thousand members from different countries, mainly the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Morocco and Nigeria.
The demonstration comes after the recent victory when the House of Lords passed an amendment to the Modern Slavery bill which now allows domestic workers to change employers once in the UK.
The amended bill is expected to go to the House of Commons within the next week for its third and final reading.
Diana Holland Unite assistant general secretary said:
“Migrant domestic workers’ struggle for justice links to all women’s struggles throughout our history. Just as suffragettes fought for the right to vote, migrant domestic workers are now struggling for the right to be free.
“Following the historic House of Lords amendment now is the time for us to call on MPs to support the change and not to undermine this achievement – which breaks the tie to their employer and recognises them as a worker in their own right ending modern day slavery.”
Marissa Begonia Justice 4 Domestic Workers coordinator said:
“Domestic workers, struggling for justice, decent pay and conditions, and equality are continuing the fight that the suffragettes made so eloquently 100 years ago. Their campaign still has real relevance today.”
J4DW is also campaigning for the retention of the domestic worker visa and for the government to sign and ratify International Labour Organisation [ILO] Convention 189 “Decent work for domestic workers”.
The ILO convention was passed in June 2011. The UK government, having committed to supporting a convention ‘in principle’ refused to vote to pass the convention. The government abstained along with the Sudan, El Salvador and Malaysia. The only other EU country to abstain was the Czech Republic.