Solidarity Action with the Cleaners and Domestic Workers in The Netherlands

20 February, 2012, Elizabeth Tang | IDWN

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Utrecht – In The Netherlands the domestic workers are also part of the cleaners industry. At the moment they are walking together with the cleaners in the streets for a new collective agreement. They are also covered by it, but only domestic workers under agencies, this time they want to cover also domestic workers under individual employers which is the majority in The Netherlands, Rebeca Pabon reports. Their demands are:

  1. To be fully recognized as workers: In The Netherlands domestic workers are perceived as freelancers without right to access social security like pensions, sick or vacations days.
  2. Ratification of the Convention 189: So far, with the participation in the strike and in the union, domestic workers have been recognized as workers by the national cleaning employers association. Therefore, they are included in the collective agreement. However, they want the ratification of the convention in order to fully change the law and win full workers rights.

The International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN) is watching with great interest the events in the Netherlands. For the second year, the cleaners and domestic workers have to go on strike in order to achieve an acceptable collective agreement for the industry. We are very proud that the Dutch domestic workers are part of this important struggle!

Far too long cleaners were left behind in terms of wages and decent working conditions in general. The conditions for domestic workers are even worse, as they are excluded from basic labour rights and access to social protection.

We acknowledge the approach of the Dutch cleaning employers association "De Ondernemersorganisatie Schoonmaak- en Bedrijfsdiensten", OSB, which recognizes domestic workers as workers and thus enables protection under the existing collective agreement for those who are employed by agencies.

However, this is not enough! The vast majority of domestic workers are having individual employers. Many of the domestic workers are undocumented migrant workers who do not enjoy basic human and labour rights. This has to stop!

For the first time in history an international treaty for the protection of all domestic workers was adopted at the International Labour Conference in June 2011. The ILO Convention C189 provides adequate protection for all domestic workers, no matter what their immigration status is and no matter who the employer is.

All Dutch delegates to the ILO Conference in June 2011 in Geneva: the government, the workers and the employers representatives voted in favour of the Convention!

Now, this international treaty needs to be put in practice. We support our brothers and sisters in the Netherlands in their demands for ratification of the ILO Convention C189 and for implementation through appropriate national laws. This means no more and not less, that domestic workers can enjoy the same labour rights as any other workers in the Netherlands.

We wish FNV Bondgenoten, the strong organization of the cleaners and domestic workers in the Netherlands, a successful outcome of your strike and negotiations.

Domestic Workers unite – in the Netherlands and in the world!
Domestic workers worldwide stand at your side – your struggle is our struggle!

In solidarity, on behalf of the International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN)
Elizabeth Tang

For further information find some links for you interest. Most of the news are in Dutch which make it difficult to follow, we know! But maybe you can make use of an automated translator, it works some time. Follow the latest strike updates via:

Video, first day of action

Video, first day of action. They gave a foam party in the office of Phillips, one of the worst employers.

Video, second day of actions

Latest photos via Flickr

Open solidarity note as PDF file


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