Unite celebrates International Domestic Workers’ Day w...

Unite celebrates International Domestic Workers’ Day with renewed call to end tied visas for domestic workers

17 June 2016

Campaigners from Unite, the country’s biggest union, Justice for Domestic Workers and One Billion Rising UK will gather at Old Palace Yard, Westminster on Sunday 19 June to celebrate International Domestic Workers' Day with a renewed call on the government to end tied visas for domestic workers. 

WHEN: Sunday 19 June at 14:00
WHERE: Old Palace Yard, opposite the Houses of Parliament, SW1 3JY

Tied visas, which were introduced by the coalition government in 2012, have been roundly and continuously condemned by Unite, human rights groups, charities and Labour MPs for reintroducing a system of slavery of migrant domestic workers. 

Under the current system migrant domestic workers cannot legally leave their employer and find new work, leaving thousands of workers potentially trapped in abusive situations.

Unite is urging David Cameron to give domestic workers back their rights and dignity which his government cruelly snatched when it abolished the 1998 Overseas Domestic Workers Visa. 

It further calls on the Prime Minister to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers to ensure a minimum standard of protection of this vulnerable workforce. 

Sunday’s event will be one of celebration with speakers including, Unite assistant general secretary, Diana Holland, Sean Bamford (TUC), Rowena Rimpas on the life of a domestic worker and others. 

Diana Holland Unite assistant general secretary said: “International Domestic Workers Day celebrates the achievements of domestic workers globally in winning an international labour standard to protect and empower these workers. Unite represents and campaigns with migrant domestic workers for justice. 

“Today we are calling for the UK government to play its part and ratify the ILO convention – achieving the minimum labour standard of protection every domestic worker worldwide should be able to count on. When Labour introduced migrant domestic workers rights in 1998, they ended modern day slavery.

“The coalition government turned back the clock on this tremendous advance, and we need action now to right this wrong.”

Marissa Begonia, Justice for Domestic Workers coordinator said: “The tied visa system has exposed this already vulnerable workforce to even greater risk of abuse and exploitation. The only way to protect and improve the precarious living conditions of migrant domestic workers is for the government to reinstate the rights of domestic workers and for the government to ratify the ILO Domestic Workers Convention 189 with immediate effect.”

Live-in domestic workers, who are often on call 24 hours a day, with few rest breaks are at greater risk of abuse and exploitation from unscrupulous employers because of the coalition government’s ill-thought out law changes, Unite has warned. 

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774 146 777

  • 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.