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Domestic workers rally on Human Rights Day to oppose t...

Domestic workers rally on Human Rights Day to oppose the return of slavery in the UK

09 December 2014

WHEN: Photo Op 10.30am, Wednesday 10 December 2014
WHERE: Old Palace Yard, Westminster, SW1

Migrant domestic workers will be marking World Human Rights Day tomorrow (Wednesday 10 December) by taking to the streets of Westminster to demonstrate against the government’s changes to the migrant domestic workers visa and calling for the reinstatement of the Overseas Domestic Worker visa.

The group of migrant domestic workers will be protesting outside parliament tomorrow holding life-size message boards highlighting the abuse they have suffered.

Despite strong opposition from Unite - the UK’s largest union and the union which represents migrant domestic workers - and many organisations and charities, the government in April 2012 abolished the rights of domestic workers to change employer once they are in the UK. Under this government’s Tied Domestic Worker visa, domestic workers entering the UK are effectively trapped with that employer and have become modern day slaves.

These workers, some of the most vulnerable workers in our society, are now far more exposed to exploitation and more likely (than those who are not tied) to be abused, enslaved and exploited because of the current system. Many are also living with the added fear of deportation if they speak out.

Diana Holland Unite assistant general secretary said: “Migrant domestic workers rights are human rights and justice for these workers cannot be swept under the carpet by this government. While most of us will enjoy the festive period, many of these workers will not be allowed to phone family or friends at Christmas, let alone be able to take any time off.

“It had taken many years of campaigning to get some of the most vulnerable workers in our society the same rights that everyone should be able to count on.

“The Labour party introduced the Overseas Domestic Worker visa with cross-party support, but this government has demolished these vital achievements. This coalition government has reintroduced modern day slavery and Unite is absolutely committed to ending this and reinstating the Overseas Domestic Worker visa.”

Marissa Begonia Justice 4 Domestic Workers chair said: “The trauma of repetitive abuse of migrant domestic workers on the Tied Domestic Worker visa with no access to justice is inhuman. For this government to facilitate and tolerate slavery in the UK is an unforgivable crime.

“This government must end the abuse, exploitation and slavery of the already vulnerable migrant domestic workers. It’s time to restore domestic workers’ rights.”

ENDS

For more information please contact Marissa Begonia on 07584 160216 or contact Ashraf Choudhury in the Unite Press Office on 020 3371 2061 or 07980 224761.

Notes for Editors:

Unite
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.

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 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.