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A step closer to rights and dignity for women domestic workers and carers in the EU

Rapporteur for the report in the European Parliament's Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee, Kostadinka Kuneva, remarked: “The adoption of the Report on Domestic Workers and Carers in EU brings us a step closer to tackling the numerous indignities that domestic workers and carers face every day.”

“This is one step forward in the daily struggle for the protection of their labour rights and for the right of every person to dignity. When around 2.5 million people who are domestic workers in the EU do not have rights and dignity because there is a lack of protection from the relevant institutions or laws, then it is our duty to change these institutions and laws.

“Through the report we are asking for no more second-class, low-paid, undeclared female workers in the EU. We aim to foster the professionalisation of domestic workers and carers and the eliminiation of numerous forms of discrimination that domestic workers and carers suffer.

Kostadinka Kuneva, who earlier in her life worked as a cleaner and went on to become the secretary of the Greek trade union for cleaners and housekeepers, has a long-running commitment to standing up for the rights of domestic workers. In 2008, Kuneva was the victim of a violent acid attack which has been described as the most severe assault on a trade unionist in Greece in the past 50 years.

“The adoption of this report will not change the situation overnight. It is now in the hands of the European Commission who I call on to demonstrate the social face that they so often preach, but do not always apply when drafting policies and strategies.”

Spanish MEP, Tania González Peñas, who authored an opinion on the report for the Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee, added: “According to the International Labour Organisation, 85 per cent of domestic workers and carers are women. We should not forget that without the workers who take care of our children, our elderly and our homes, many of us would not be able to have a work-life balance. It is necessary to recognise their work, make them visible, and call for their social and labour rights, non-discrimination and equal treatment.”

“Today 29.9 per cent of these workers are excluded from national labour legislation. All member states must urgently ratify ILO Convention 189 concerning decent work for domestic workers and establish effective and accessible complaint mechanisms and means of ensuring compliance with national laws and regulations for the protection of domestic workers and carers.

“It is of paramount importance to introduce a general framework for the professionalisation of domestic work and carers. A minimum wage, paid leave, pension, health and safety at work are some of the demands that cannot be postponed.” 

To raise wider awareness of the situation of domestic workers in Europe, Kostadinka Kuneva, Tania González Peñas and other GUE/NGL MEPs are tweeting under the hashtag #MakeThemVisible today.

For further information, a press conference will be held today at 15.00 in the European Parliament, Anna Politkovskaya room,  PHS 0A50, Speakers: Kostadinka Kuneva & Tania González Peñas. Interpretation available: EN / ES / EL on request.