By Alhaji Haruna Sani
The Executive Director of the Informal Workers Organization (IWO), Chelcy Heroe, has called on the Government of Sierra Leone and by extension Africa to ratify and domesticate Convention189 ‘Decent Work for Domestic Workers’ and Convention 190 ‘End Violence and Harassment at Work to Making Right and Responsibility a Reality.
Chelcy made the clarion call during the celebration of the International Domestic Workers Day on June 19, 2022, at the 50/50 Group Conference Hall,Tower Hill in Freetown. The international theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Resilience and Sustainability: Domestic Workers Organising through the pandemic and beyond.’
She said the ratification of convention 189 and 190 will help reduce human trafficking, smuggling, modern day slavery, unemployment, poverty, sexual and gender based violence, social exclusion and meeting the Sustainable Development Goal, leaving no one behind.
The Executive Director maintained that the celebration of the international Domestic Workers Day came about during the 100th session/conference of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) held in Geneva in 2011. She said as a result, Convention No. 189 was adopted to recognize the significant contribution of domestic workers to the global economy.
Chelcy highlighted challenges faced by both domestic workers and their employers. Some of the challenges of domestic workers, she mentioned included over worked without extra-pay, financial difficulties, paid below the government minimum wage bill, lack of social protection scheme, lack of the required skills to operate modern household equipment.
She added that employers also faced challenges like theft by some domestic workers, lateness for work, damage of household equipment, love relationship with employers or relatives, hostility to the kids of the employers among others. She wrapped up her statement by highlighting achievements and challenges of her organization.
Some of the challenges she mentioned, includes financial challenges, personnel challenges, logistical challenges, delay in policy reforms among others. The achievement she mentioned included among others assessment and registration of over 500 domestic workers in western area, professional training of over 500 domestic workers, training of over 2000 returned migrants on basic business management skills, and working on the formation of domestic workers union.
In her opening remark Sarah Thomas Kamara, Chairperson Education Board Sierra Leone Labour Congress said according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) globally there are 76.6million domestic workers aged 15 years and above, 76% are women. She added that there are 11.5million migrant domestic workers; 8.5 million are women and 81% works informally.
She encouraged domestic workers to form a union and begin to advocate for their rights such as a month leave, salary negotiation, social protection, security among others. She admonished them to all come together and advocate for ratification of convention 189.
Lovel Tarawalie of the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Unit of the Sierra Leone Police lamented on the aspect of SGBV against informal/domestic workers. He said one of the mandates of the gender department of the police is to protect women as well as men. He maintained that domestic violence is commonly meted against informal workers.
Tarawalie assured police commitment in fighting against violence against domestic worker. He further encourage them to make report of any violence against, nothing that they should also be mindful of their responsibilities which includes taking proper care of their employers’ kids and property.