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Domestic workers hand out flowers to highlight ‘domest...

Domestic workers hand out flowers to highlight ‘domestic slavery’ victory

03 March 2015
WHEN: Photo Op 10.30, Wednesday 4 March 2015
WHERE: Old Palace Yard, Westminster, SW1

Domestic workers will be handing out flowers to peers outside parliament tomorrow (Wednesday 4 March) to say ‘thank you’ for  passing an amendment that gives vital protection to domestic workers – and urging  MPs not to overturn the amendment. 

Tomorrow’s event is designed to say ‘thank you’ to the peers and remind MPs to keep the amendment in the bill when it is discussed.

Because of the government’s Tied Domestic Worker visa, domestic workers entering the UK are effectively trapped with their employer and had become ‘modern day slaves’.

The House of Lords passed an amendment to the Modern Slavery bill last week which now allows domestic workers to change employers once in the UK – and the amended bill is expected to go to the House of Commons within the next week for its third – and final - reading.

Unite - the UK’s largest union and the union which represents migrant domestic workers - and many organisations and charities, had been campaigning against the government’s decision back in April 2012 to abolish the rights of domestic workers to change employer once they are in the UK.

Diana Holland, Unite assistant general secretary, said: “The House of Lords did the right thing last month by restoring the right of domestic workers to change employers and now we are urging MPs not to undo the amended bill when they discuss it.
 
“Domestic workers are some of the most vulnerable workers in our society and far more exposed to exploitation. Many are also living with the added fear of deportation, if they speak out.

“What the peers have done is restore a measure of protection – but much more needs to be done in the long-term to truly end modern day slavery for migrant domestic workers.”

Marissa Begonia, Justice 4 Domestic Workers coordinator, said: “It was a great victory in the House of Lords, but we are concerned that MPs could reject this amendment on the third reading when the bill returns to the Commons.

“We would urge them to respect what the peers have voted for and ensure that domestic workers have this protection that other workers in the UK enjoy as a long-held right.”

ENDS

For more information please contact or contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2061 or 07768 693940 – and/or Marissa Begonia on 07584 160216

Unite 
  • Unite was central to the campaign to establish the Overseas Domestic Workers visa in 1998, and the achievement of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention in 2011. 
 
Justice 4 Domestic Workers 
  • Justice 4 Domestic Workers (J4DW) is a domestic worker led group formed in 2009 affiliated with Unite. It has more than a thousand members from different countries, mainly the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Morocco and Nigeria. 
  • J4DW is campaigning for the retention of the domestic worker visa and for the government to sign and ratify 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. 

Notes to editors: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.