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Labour ministry launches campaign for domestic workers' rights

Published:Thursday | March 6, 2014 | 12:00 AM

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) has launched a media campaign aimed at engendering widespread support for the rights of household workers in Jamaica.

The campaign comes as members of the Jamaica Household Workers Union have increased calls for the Government to ratify the International Labour Organis-ation (ILO) Convention 189, Advancing Decent Work for Domestic Workers.

Chief technical officer, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Errol Miller, said the matter was before the attorney general's chambers for an opinion as to whether a recommendation can be made for the Government to ratify the Convention.

He was addressing the UN Women/Ministry of Labour and Social Security 'Advancing Decent Work for Household Workers' C189 Media campaign launch on March 4, at the Jamaica Employers' Federation office in Kingston.

Changing of laws

Miller said ratification of ILO Convention 189 was dependent on Jamaica bringing its laws in sync with that of the Convention.

"What it means is that after we have ratified the Convention, we have to report to the ILO on what we have been doing, and you cannot report and say that your laws are not supporting it, so what happens is that we have to ensure that the laws support the Convention, then we ratify it, and then we ensure that everything is in order so that when we make the report, the laws are there to back up what we are doing," Miller said.

He said that the ministry was "doing everything possible to see to it that the Convention is ratified as soon as possible".

The MLSS has been working with the Jamaica Employers' Federation, Jamaica Confeder-ation of Trade Unions, Jamaica Household Workers Union, and other stakeholders to get the government to ratify the ILO Convention 189. The Conven-tion is an agreement to protect the rights of male and female household workers around the world. Governments which sign the Convention agree to change local laws and take actions to protect the rights of these workers.

Miller explained that a grant from the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) to the MLSS was used to fund, among other things, a baseline study of domestic workers in Jamaica; seminars among domestic workers on adoption of the ILO Convention 189 and its advancement towards ratification; and a gap analysis to compare Jamaica's legislation to the terms of the Convention to determine what legislative amendments are needed to reconcile the two.