Domestic workers are excluded from the right to join a union and bargain collectively in the provinces of Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick.
Geneva (22 June 2011) – Last week, at the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) 100th annual conference in Geneva, Switzerland, the global community took a major collective step towards achieving economic and social justice for some of the world’s most vulnerable workers with the overwhelming adoption of the ILO Decent Work for Domestic Workers Convention and accompanying recommendation.
More than 80 per cent of the world’s governments, workers and employers voted in favor of the convention’s adoption, with 90 per cent supporting the accompanying recommendation. In practice, the convention and recommendation set out basic minimum rights and protections to which domestic workers within countries that ratify the convention are legally entitled. Symbolically, however, these instruments achieve much more.
In approximately 40 per cent of the world’s nations, the simple recognition of domestic work as work and domestic workers as deserving the same rights and protections that other workers enjoy flies in the face of exclusionary labour laws and social protection regimes.
Canada, unfortunately, is one such country. There are an estimated 150,000 workers in Canada performing domestic tasks, working as nannies or parents’ helpers to provide child care or serving as live-in care or home support workers. Domestic workers are excluded from the right to join a union and bargain collectively in the provinces of Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick.
These provinces will have comply with the Supreme Court of Canada’s recognition of collective bargaining as constitutional right and end their legislative ban against domestic workers in order to have the new convention ratified by Canada. The federal government also will have to review and overhaul its Live-In Caregiver Program in order to strengthen the protection afforded to many workers who come to Canada under this program.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE