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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 23 January, 2020

Domestic workers 'being exploited' in Ireland

Today is International Domestic Workers Day – and there are calls for the government to ratify an international convention.

Image: Worker via Shutterstock

THERE ARE THOUSANDS of domestic workers in Ireland, caring for the old, the sick, the frail; cleaning family homes; or caring for children.

Today, 16 June, is Bloomsday – but it’s also International Domestic Workers Day, a day when the work done by these men and women is acknowledged. It’s also a day when the focus is on what needs to be done to make life better and safer for these workers.

Today is the third anniversary of the international adoption of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention. However, the Irish government has not yet ratified the Convention.

The Migrant Rights Commission in Ireland said today that au pairs, carers, childminders, cleaners and housekeepers in Ireland “continue to experience exploitation and poor working conditions”.

MRCI’s Domestic Workers Action Group (DWAG) believes the Government is failing the thousands of domestic workers in the State.


Reynelde Mahilum, a domestic worker and DWAG campaigner, said:

The Government are too slow, this is not good enough. We have been promised the Convention and we desperately need it, to protect us all from exploitation and abuse. We recognise that Ireland made good progress in terms of pushing the convention forward at EU level, but since then Minister Bruton has not moved to ratify it in Ireland.

She described the thousands of domestic workers in Ireland as “working in a hidden and undervalued sector” and “vulnerable to exploitation, underpayment and denial of their basic rights”.

Recent cases have shown how young women working as au pairs are particularly vulnerable to abuse. If the Government truly believes that carers, cleaners, au pairs and housekeepers have rights, why won’t they show that and sign this Convention? Justice delayed is justice denied; we need action.

Hilda Regaspi, Chair of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland and DWAG member said that they have also been waiting five years for measures from the Department of Foreign Affairs to protect migrant domestic workers employed in embassies and diplomatic households.

“We’ve been told these standards are at drafting stage for the last two years and still no action,” she said.

Read: ‘No one ever notices the cleaner’>

Read: Government called to act on exploitation of domestic workers>

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