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Domestic workers

  • Domestic Workers - standards and guides

    Websites/Multiple Documents

    Title: Convention on domestic workers
    Description/subject: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia... Convention on Domestic Workers Convention concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers... Signed 16 June 2011.. Location:Geneva... Effective: not in force Condition: 2 ratifications... The Convention on Domestic Workers, formally the Convention concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers is a convention setting labour standards for domestic workers. It is the 189th ILO convention and was adopted during the 100th session of the International Labour Office.
    Language: English
    Source/publisher: Wikipedia
    Format/size: html
    Date of entry/update: 12 September 2011


    Individual Documents

    Title: Text of Domestic Workers Convention, 2011. (ILO Convention 189)
    Date of publication: 16 June 2011
    Language: English
    Source/publisher: International Labour Organisation
    Format/size: html
    Date of entry/update: 12 September 2011


    Title: Decent work for domestic workers
    Date of publication: January 2010
    Description/subject: "...Domestic work...is undervalued and poorly regulated, and many domestic workers remain overworked, underpaid and unprotected. Accounts of maltreatment and abuse, especially of live-in and migrant domestic workers, are regularly denounced in the media. In many countries, domestic work is very largely performed by child labourers.
    Language: English
    Source/publisher: International Labour Conference, 99th Session, 2010
    Format/size: pdf (3.42 MB)
    Date of entry/update: 10 December 2010


    Title: Domestic Work - Decent Work -- a 'Smart Guide' for Domestic Workers in Thailand (Burmese)
    Date of publication: 2010
    Description/subject: This ILO guidebook promotes the rights and responsibilities of domestic workers. Published in a variety of languages, it is aimed primarily at the domestic worker and explains the benefits and risks ssociated with domestic work while offering the worker advice on how to interact with her/his employer to achieve a mutually satisfactory working environment and system of remuneration and benefits for the worker.
    Language: Burmese
    Source/publisher: International Labour Organisation
    Format/size: pdf (1.1MB)
    Alternate URLs: http://www.ilo.org/asia/whatwedo/publications/lang--en/docName--WCM_041809/index.htm
    Date of entry/update: 12 September 2011


    Title: Domestic Work - Decent Work -- a 'Smart Guide' for Domestic Workers in Thailand (English)
    Date of publication: 2010
    Description/subject: This ILO guidebook promotes the rights and responsibilities of domestic workers. Published in a variety of languages, it is aimed primarily at the domestic worker and explains the benefits and risks ssociated with domestic work while offering the worker advice on how to interact with her/his employer to achieve a mutually satisfactory working environment and system of remuneration and benefits for the worker.
    Language: English (also available in Burmese, S'Gaw Karen, Pwo Karen, Laotian, Shan, Thai)
    Source/publisher: International Labour Organisation
    Format/size: pdf (529K)
    Alternate URLs: http://www.ilo.org/asia/whatwedo/publications/lang--en/docName--WCM_041809/index.htm
    Date of entry/update: 2010


    Title: Domestic Work - Decent Work -- a 'Smart Guide' for Domestic Workers in Thailand (Pwo Karen)
    Date of publication: 2010
    Description/subject: This ILO guidebook promotes the rights and responsibilities of domestic workers. Published in a variety of languages, it is aimed primarily at the domestic worker and explains the benefits and risks ssociated with domestic work while offering the worker advice on how to interact with her/his employer to achieve a mutually satisfactory working environment and system of remuneration and benefits for the worker.
    Language: Pwo Karen
    Source/publisher: International Labour Organisation
    Format/size: pdf (1MB)
    Alternate URLs: http://www.ilo.org/asia/whatwedo/publications/lang--en/docName--WCM_041809/index.htm
    Date of entry/update: 12 September 2011


    Title: Domestic Work - Decent Work -- a 'Smart Guide' for Domestic Workers in Thailand (S'gaw Karen)
    Date of publication: 2010
    Description/subject: This ILO guidebook promotes the rights and responsibilities of domestic workers. Published in a variety of languages, it is aimed primarily at the domestic worker and explains the benefits and risks ssociated with domestic work while offering the worker advice on how to interact with her/his employer to achieve a mutually satisfactory working environment and system of remuneration and benefits for the worker.
    Language: S'gaw Karen
    Source/publisher: International Labour Organisation
    Format/size: pdf (1MB)
    Alternate URLs: http://www.ilo.org/asia/whatwedo/publications/lang--en/docName--WCM_041809/index.htm
    Date of entry/update: 12 September 2011


    Title: Domestic Work - Decent Work -- a 'Smart Guide' for Domestic Workers in Thailand (Shan)
    Date of publication: 2010
    Description/subject: This ILO guidebook promotes the rights and responsibilities of domestic workers. Published in a variety of languages, it is aimed primarily at the domestic worker and explains the benefits and risks ssociated with domestic work while offering the worker advice on how to interact with her/his employer to achieve a mutually satisfactory working environment and system of remuneration and benefits for the worker.
    Language: Shan
    Source/publisher: International Labour Organisation
    Format/size: pdf (1.7MB)
    Date of entry/update: 12 September 2011


    Title: Domestic Work - Decent Work -- a 'Smart Guide' for Domestic Workers in Thailand... งานบ้าน – งานที่มีคุณค่า คู่มือสำหรับแรงงานทำงานบ้านใน
    Date of publication: 2010
    Description/subject: This ILO guidebook promotes the rights and responsibilities of domestic workers. Published in a variety of languages, it is aimed primarily at the domestic worker and explains the benefits and risks ssociated with domestic work while offering the worker advice on how to interact with her/his employer to achieve a mutually satisfactory working environment and system of remuneration and benefits for the worker.
    Language: Thai
    Source/publisher: International Labour Organisation
    Format/size: pdf (562K)
    Alternate URLs: http://www.ilo.org/asia/whatwedo/publications/lang--en/docName--WCM_041809/index.htm
    Date of entry/update: 12 September 2011


  • Domestic Workers from Burma

    Individual Documents

    Title: Domestic workers in Thailand: their situation, challenges and the way forward
    Date of publication: January 2010
    Description/subject: "...over the past 10 years there has been an increasing number of migrant workers who have been recruited to do domestic work in the Thai households. Despite the demand for and contribution of domestic workers in the larger economy and general social good, domestic work is neither well recognized in the Thai society nor well protected by the Thai labour law. Domestic work is regarded as a form of informal sector work which has limited labour protection and social security coverage. The majority of migrant domestic workers are not only more vulnerable to labour and other form of exploitation than Thai domestic workers, but they also have little access to most of the labour protection under the Thai labour law. This report reviews and analyzes the situation of both Thai and non-Thai domestic workers in Thailand, in particular those working in private households, by drawing on existing reliable information. It hopes to bring out key issues and recommendations which can contribute to the advocacy efforts of ILO and its partners in Thailand in their campaign on decent work for domestic workers..."
    Author/creator: Vachararutai (Jan) Boontinand
    Language: English
    Source/publisher: International Labour Organisation
    Format/size: pdf (374K)
    Alternate URLs: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/documents/publication/wcms_120274.pdf
    http://www.ilo.org/asia/whatwedo/publications/lang--en/docName--WCMS_120274/index.htm
    Date of entry/update: 30 January 2010


    Title: The Mekong Challenge - Underpaid, Overworked and Overlooked : The realities of young migrant workers in Thailand (Volume 1)
    Date of publication: 13 December 2006
    Description/subject: "...Thailand has emerged as the number one destination in cross-border trafficking of children and women. Many children and young women from Myanmar, Cambodia and Lao PDR migrate to Thailand in search of better life. Often their journey leads them to a life of exploitation. A significant percent of these young migrants work in four employment sectors; agriculture, fishing boats and fish processing, manufacturing and domestic work. While they become an integral part of the economy, they remain invisible and face exploitation. Exploitation is widespread and ranges from non-payment or underpayment of wages, a requirement to work excessive hours sometimes involving the use of hazardous equipment - to even more serious violations of forced labour and trafficking..."
    Author/creator: Elaine Pearson, Sureeporn Punpuing, Aree Jampaklay, Sirinan Kittisuksathit, Aree Prohmmo
    Language: English
    Source/publisher: Mekong Sub-regional Project to Combat Trafficking in Women and Children, ILO
    Format/size: pdf (English - 2.5MB, 5.23 MB)
    Alternate URLs: http://www.humantrafficking.org/uploads/publications/underpaid-eng-volume1.pdf
    Date of entry/update: 12 April 2008


    Title: The Mekong Challenge - Underpaid, Overworked and Overlooked: The realities of young migrant workers in Thailand: Vol. 2 (2) - The Domestic Work Sector
    Date of publication: 13 December 2006
    Description/subject: Conclusions: 4.1 Indications of labour exploitation The findings illustrate a clear pattern of severe labour exploitation of migrant domestic workers, and in various cases evidence of forced labour. Domestic workers surveyed in Chiang Mai and Mae Sot reported being locked in the house unable to readily communicate or contact the outside world. This combined with widespread verbal and physical abuse, extremely long working hours, a lack of adequate rest days and non-payment, under-payment or delayed payment of wages shows how easily substandard working conditions can turn into working situations tantamount to forced labour. Some domestic workers were forced to work with other workers in other businesses, and some didn't have any choice in the type of jobs they performed. Some domestic workers worked for free for extended periods of time as a result of their debt bondage to employers or recruiters. As "live-in" workers, employers often expected domestic workers to be available to work at all times. Migrant workers can't freely change employers since they lack control over their documentation as examined previously in greater depth. Domestic workers, like other workers, have the right to hold onto their original ID card. However, only half of the registered domestic workers manage to keep hold of their original card. Socio-cultural values and attitudes of employers often play a role in justifying control over domestic workers' freedom of movement. Employers don't recognise that they have no right to keep hold of their workers' documents. Employers may be well-meaning and do this in the name of "protecting" domestic workers from dangers outside the household, but such "protection" violates the workers' basic rights to freedom of movement... 4.2 Legal status and registration Possession of legal working documents can partly protect domestic workers from harassment and reduce the risk of arrest or detention while they are in Thailand. However, it has been found that even registered migrant workers continue to live in fear of deportation. The majority of both employers and domestic workers have positive attitudes toward Thai policy on registration. Despite this fact, it was pointed out that the registration process is too complicated, is not clearly explained to those who need to understand it and that the timeframe for registration is too short. The registration policy, in turn, encourages employers to take more control over, and diminish the rights of their workers. Not only do many employers keep their worker's original ID card, but some also refuse to allow their domestic workers to register. Many domestic workers can't afford the registration costs, which can be equal to several months of their salary, or end up being in debt to their employers who pay for them. This becomes a reason for employers holding their worker's original work permit. There is no mention of whether or not the workers receive their original ID back once the debt to an employer is repaid in full. Non-registered domestic workers are more likely to face a greater degree of oppression in terms of constraints on leaving their employment, and with regard to payment and days off permitted than registered migrant workers... 4.3 Working conditions The risk of labour exploitation is high in light of the fact that the majority of domestic workers don't know about their working conditions until they arrive at the home of their employer. Employers determine working and payment conditions. A third of domestic workers have to do both household chores and work relating to the employer's business. According to the Thai LPA (1998), this means they should no longer be referred to as "domestic workers", and they should be protected under Thai labour law. Almost all (98%) the domestic workers surveyed worked more than a standard eight-hour day. About two thirds work more than 14 hours a day. It is worth noting that they have to be available for work at any time, whether it is inconvenient or not, based on the needs of the employer. In general, the amount earned by a manual worker varies depending on the number of hours worked, but this is not the case among migrant domestic workers. Migrant domestic workers earn less than workers in other sectors. About 40% receive a monthly salary of less than 1,000 baht, while only 11% receive more than 3,000 baht per month. This is well below the Thai national standard minimum wage, with most Thais earning at least 4,500 baht a month depending on their workplace. Nobody involved refers to overtime payments. The situation is even worse when considering that only a small proportion (7-17%) of domestic workers receive regular weekly, monthly or annual leave. Younger and unregistered domestic workers, on average, work longer hours, receive lower pay and receive less or no regular day off. Employers perpetuate a number of myths to justify the long working hours, lack of regular days off and low wages of domestic workers. Firstly, it is widely thought that domestic workers are able to relax while employers are not at home. The current study debunks this myth since many domestic workers were overworked, working in more than one workplace, with many different tasks to do and rarely any time alone in the house. The second myth is that domestic workers are able to take rest days whenever they want. Most domestic workers were unable to take leave and didn't receive the minimum number of annual days off, to do so would risk them losing their job or having their pay reduced... 4.4 Child domestic labour In-depth interviews were held with two extremely young domestic workers, aged 9 and 10. In the survey of domestic workers, 20% were aged under 18. Employers suggested they like to hire children as domestic workers because they are easy to control, more obedient and diligent. Recruiters cited similar reasons for recruiting children. Domestic work is sometimes seen as work that is considered more "appropriate" for children, however, child domestic workers worked longer hours under worse conditions for lower wages, in a "worst form" of child labour under ILO Convention 182. Employers indicated in the in-depth interviews that they treat migrant domestic workers, particularly child domestic workers, as family members. Child domestic workers also pointed out that they are often seen as part of the family. While this may sound warm and friendly, in fact it can increase the children's vulnerability to abuse. Child domestic workers may be treated worse since they can't complain or resist because they feel they are facing a "family" obligation. Moreover, it becomes more difficult for outsiders to intervene in "family" matters... 4.5 Support mechanisms Since domestic workers are isolated in their employers' residences they lack the usual mechanisms of family and friends as support mechanisms for work-related problems. Recruiters, who are sometimes relatives or friends of the migrant, offer a key support structure for domestic workers as they live in Thailand, have the ability to visit the domestic workers regularly and speak the same languages. Recruiters at least offer domestic workers some contact with the outside world and may be a starting point for possible future interventions. As live-in migrant domestic workers, contact with the outside world is limited. However, mobile phones now help many workers feel less isolated so they can talk to other people, even if they can't meet with them. The migrant domestic workers express their willingness to meet and share their experiences with others. And some of them are interested in studying or continuing their studies in order to create a better future for themselves.
    Language: English, Thai
    Source/publisher: International Labour Organisation
    Format/size: pdf (English - 314K; Thai - 312K)
    Alternate URLs: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/region/asro/bangkok/child/trafficking/downloads/vol2-domestic-thai.pdf
    Date of entry/update: 03 May 2008


    Title: The Mekong Challence - Working Day and Night: The Plight of Migrant Child Workers in Mae Sot, Thailand
    Date of publication: 2006
    Description/subject: "Migrant children in Mae Sot are faced with excessive working hours, lack of time off, and unhealthy proximity to dangerous machines and chemicals. They also endure the practice of debt bondage and the systematic seizure of their identification documents. Indeed many of these children in Mae Sot can most accurately be described as enduring the "worst forms of child labour, prohibited by the International Labour Organization's Convention No. 182 - a Convention that the Royal Thai Government ratified in February, 2001. These child workers reported that they were virtually forced to remain at the factory due to restrictions placed on their movements by factory owners, and by threats of arrest and harassment by police and other officials if they were stopped outside the factory gates. Put succinctly, Mae Sot has perfected a system where children are literally working day and night, week after week, for wages that are far below the legal minimum wage, to the point of absolute exhaustion..."
    Author/creator: Philip S. Robertson Jr., Editor
    Language: English
    Source/publisher: International Labour Organisation
    Format/size: pdf (4.45MB)
    Alternate URLs: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/region/asro/bangkok/child/trafficking/downloads/workingdayandnight-english.pdf
    Date of entry/update: 04 April 2007


    Title: Migrant Domestic Workers: From Burma to Thailand (short version)
    Date of publication: 23 July 2005
    Description/subject: Abstract: Millions of people from Burma have migrated into neighboring countries over the past decade. Most have left their country in search of security and safety as a direct result of internal conflict and militarization, severe economic hardship and minority persecution. This exodus represents one of the largest migration flows in Southeast Asia. Fearing persecution, the vast majority of those migrating from Burma find themselves desperate to survive, obtaining work in underground and, often, illegal labor markets. The majority of those fleeing Burma migrate to neighboring Thailand, where an estimated two million people from Burma work in “3-D jobs” (dangerous, dirty and difficult). Although there is a growing awareness of their isolation and vulnerability to labor exploitation and violence, there is little data available documenting their realities. This results in the alienation of domestic workers and perpetuates the disregard for their labor and basic rights. This paper presents the findings of research proposed and implemented by members of the Shan Women’s Action Network and the Karen Women’s Organization regarding girls and women who have migrated from Burma into domestic work in Thailand. This paper focuses on the roots causes of migration from Burma to Thailand, the harsh conditions in which foreign domestic workers are employed and their inability to defend their most basic rights while they are in Thailand, and lastly on their future aspirations. Foreign domestic workers interviewed in this study described that the major cause of migration were related to political and economic situations in Burma. The push-pull theory explains this migration stream. In Thailand, the migrant domestic workers being expected to work on demand, without agreed upon responsibilities or a written contract delineating working hours, days off, accommodations, salaries, sick leave, care or pay. However, they had their dreams and hopes of securing a better future for their families and themselves. In the recommendations, roles of both Burma and Thai governments, NGOs and CBOs in helping establish appropriate interventions to reduce the abuse, exploitation and trafficking of migrant domestic workers are stated. The importance of recognizing domestic work as labor as well as the need to provide protection for the domestic workers under national labor laws is emphasised in this study..."
    Author/creator: Sureeporn Punpuing, Therese Caouette, Awatsaya Panam, Khaing Mar Kyaw Zaw
    Language: English
    Source/publisher: Office of Population Research at Princeton University
    Format/size: pdf (226K)
    Date of entry/update: 04 May 2005


    Title: Migrant Domestic Workers: From Burma to Thailand (full version)
    Date of publication: July 2004
    Description/subject: An important and well-researched report. “Millions of people from Burma1 have migrated into neighboring countries over the past decade. Most have left their country in search of security and safety as a direct result of internal conflict and militarization, severe economic hardship and minority persecution. This exodus represents one of the largest migration flows in Southeast Asia. The minority people of Burma make up the majority of those dislocated as a result of Burma's State Peace and Development Council's (SPDC's) renewed commitment to eliminate ethnic militias and any support for them in minority areas through forced labor and portering, as well as forced relocation and arbitrary taxation, all of which leave the country's population, particularly the minorities, extremely vulnerable. Fearing persecution, the vast majority of those migrating from Burma find themselves desperate to survive, obtaining work in underground and, often, illegal labor markets. The majority of those fleeing Burma migrate to neighboring Thailand, where an estimated two million people from Burma work in "3-D jobs" (dangerous, dirty and difficult), for pay well below minimum wage. While clearly in need of assistance and protection, migrants from Burma have a particularly difficult time exercising their rights in Thailand due to the Thai government's policy of denying the majority of them refugee status. Living in perpetual fear of deportation, migrants from Burma face abhorrent labor practices as a result of their illegal status, as well as the lack of standardized working conditions and protection mechanisms. It is estimated that well over one hundred thousand females from Burma are employed as domestic workers in Thailand, though little information is available on the realities faced by these women and girls. Although there is a growing awareness of their isolation and vulnerability to labor exploitation and violence, there is little data available documenting their realities. This results in the alienation of domestic workers and perpetuates the disregard for their labor and basic rights. Consequently, neither migrants nor domestic workers (including Thai citizens) have any official means of reporting or seeking redress to the grievances or abuses they encounter in their jobs....”
    Author/creator: Awatsaya Panam, Khaing Mar Kyaw Zaw, Therese Caouette, Sureeporn Punpuing
    Language: English
    Source/publisher: Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University, Thailand
    Format/size: pdf (250 pages)
    Alternate URLs: http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs3/Domestic_workers-ocr.pdf (3.23MB)
    http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs3/Domestic_workers-textonly.pdf (1.2MB)
    Date of entry/update: 20 November 2005