Migrant women who come to Europe to work as domestic labourers run a severe risk of exploitation, abuse or worse.
Trade unions in France are reaching out to organise isolated and exploited workers and fight degrading treatment and domestic slavery through court action and collective bargaining.
Zita Cabais-Obra, from the Philippines, escaped slavery with assistance from the CFDT and took up the struggle to empower foreign domestic workers in France. Although unions have secured agreements covering rights for domestic workers and maternal assistants, some employers still impose long hours or conditions that breach labour law.
“With the help of other activists, we continue to meet domestic workers in parks, in front of schools, or at open markets,” said Zita Cabais-Obra. “They typically come to check if their contracts and pay slips are adequate or to seek counsel if they are unfairly dismissed from their job. Despite having won many cases over the years, there are many things that must be done to protect domestic workers.”
The European Federation of Trade Unions in the Food, Agriculture and Tourism sectors (EFFAT) has meanwhile relaunched its My Fair Home campaign calling on trade unionists to sign a pledge guaranteeing decent working conditions.