Overworked, Underpaid and In Your House: The Never Ending Exploitation of South Africa's Domestic Workers

11 September, 2014 | South African Civil Society Information Service | SACSIS

They are important drivers of the South African economy, yet domestic workers are still amongst the lowest paid workers today. Their fate was sealed during the apartheid era when “kitchen girls” were just servants with no workplace rights. Little has changed in post-apartheid South Africa we learn from Myrtle Witbooi, the general secretary of South Africa’s domestic workers’ union. Domestic work is still not considered decent work. Poor enforcement of regulations and regressive employer attitudes mean that domestic workers’ rights are being quietly violated every day by people who would never accept similar working conditions themselves.

Myrtle Witbooi is the general secretary of the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU). She is interviewed by Fazila Farouk, the executive director of the South African Civil Society Information Service.

South Africa domestic workers encouraged to join union

27 July, 2014 | SABC | SABC

Domestic workers have been encouraged to join the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU).

This has emerged at the Limpopo domestic workers' symposium in Polokwane.

Its main focus was to empower the workers by making them aware of their rights.

South Africa: Salaries of domestic workers in the spotlight

3 June, 2014 | Graeme Raubenheimer | Eye Witness News

The South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (Sadsawu) says domestic workers should be earning a minimum salary of at least R2,000 per month.

The Department of Labour is holding public hearings across South Africa this month to determine a new sectoral wage for domestic workers.

Benin DW learn about roles of leaders, union structure and administration work

24 August, 2013 | IDWN | IDWN

IDWN conducted a training for Syndicat des Employés d'hotel de Maison(SYNEHM), a domestic workers' union in Benin on Aug 24 2013. In the training, domestic workers' leaders learned about their roles in union, union structure and administration work.

It was an interactive training in which the participants put drawings on the wall on union structure.

CHODAWU strategies to use media for DWs rights

16 July, 2013 | Vicky Kanyoka | CHODAWU

On July 16 CHODAWU conducted a workshop named "Media Campaign on Decent Work for Domestic Workers".

The objective of the workshop was to strategies how to use media to campaign for the rights of domestic workers in Tanzania including the ratification of C189.  As the preparation for the media campaign the workshop involved CHODAWU provincial secretaries, domestic workers, journalists, officials from Ministry of Labour and Employers and experts on theatre. The workshop was officially opened by the GS for CHODAWU Mr. Said Wamba and also the ILO representative Bro Mkuku.

This activity was supported by ILO.

How to count working time of domestic workers

13 July, 2013 | IDWN | Vicky Kanyoka

Domestic work is not considered as work generally and hence most domestic workers in particularly the live-in domestic workers find their tasks never end.  In April and May, together with the Conservation, Hotels, Domestic, Social Services and Consultancy Workers Union (CHODAWU) in Tanzania and the ILO, IDWN conducted a study on the working time of domestic workers.

We recorded the working time of 20 live-in domestic workers using a time recording form we developed at the onset.  With increased awareness and a proper tool, we hope that in the near future all domestic workers and their employers will be able to properly record the working time of domestic workers and understand it better.

Story report on the Launch of the Africa Domestic Workers' Network

16 June, 2013 | Chris Bonner | IDWN

On 16 June 2013 the Africa Domestic Workers’ Network (AfDWN) was launched in Cape Town, South Africa, exactly two years after the adoption of the Domestic Workers’ Convention (C189) and at the very time when a diplomatic bag containing South African Government documents ratifying C189 was en route to Geneva for official lodging at the ILO.

The launch Conference of the Africa Domestic Workers’ Network took place on 15-16 June 2013. The South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers’ Union (SADSAWU), with the support of the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU) hosted the Conference.  95 domestic worker representatives from 17 organizations in 17 countries, with a total membership of 95572, participated in the Conference, and were joined by Steering Committee members and coordinators of the IDWN from Asia, Caribbean, USA and Latin America, as well as supportive organizations from South Africa and from Europe.

Declaration of the African Regional Domestic Workers' Conference

16 June, 2013 | AfDWN | AfDWN

Declaration of the African Regional Domestic Workers' Conference
15-16 June 2013, Cape Town, South Africa

On June 16 2013, this second anniversary of the adoption of the C189 and International Domestic Workers' Day, domestic workers in Africa launched the Africa Domestic Workers' Network (AfDWN) in Cape Town, South Africa.

This historic conference gathered 95 domestic worker representatives of 17 organizations from 17 countries in Africa, with a total membership of 95,572. They were joined by the leadership of the International Domestic Workers' Network (IDWN) from Asia, Latin America, North America and Caribbean. Other supportive organizations came from Europe and South Africa.

South Africa approves ratification of C189

11 June, 2013 | IDWN | IDWN

South Africa approves ratification of C189! A message from Myrtle Witbooi, the IDWN Chair:

   Dear all,

   Nearly 2 years have gone by, after so many letters, emails, protest and marches, on Friday the 7th, our government approved the ratification of the Convention 189.  We are truly now workers like all other workers and our work is decent work!  Viva to our International Network and all those that supported us!

   In solidarity,
   Myrtle Witbooi, IDWN Chair

NSSF should not jump the gun

25 May, 2013


By Daily Nation

The move by the National Social Security Fund to rally employers to register their workers is timely. It will ensure employees enjoy the fruits of their labour when they can no longer work.

However, NSSF’s plan to undertake a door-to-door inspection for unregistered domestic workers is unwise. The Fund should first conduct a campaign to educate the public on its mandate. Currently, few people are aware of the benefits of NSSF or the investment opportunities.

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