February 27, 2021

Household employees are concentrated in Madrid to make visible the precariousness of the sector and demand their labor rights

Household employees are concentrated in Madrid to make visible the precariousness of the sector and demand their labor rights



Neither the rain, which on Sunday morning has broken the dry season that lurked in Madrid, has managed to silence the voices of the domestic workers gathered in the Puerta del Sol to demand the equalization of their labor rights with the general regime of workers.

Dressed in yellow aprons of the collective SEDOAC (Active Domestic Service) -convocant of the protest, with the support of SOS Racism, State Network of Domestic Workers and Care or Alliance for Solidarity, among others-, the women started with their particular cry of war: "I am an employee of the home, for my rights I will fight".

The banner defined one of the central demands of the guild of domestic workers, immersed in an inequality protected by law. And it is that domestic workers are the only ones that do not generate the right to unemployment. That is why it could be read "It is a question of Justice, yes to ILO Convention 189", referring to this legal agreement of the International Labor Organization that has not been ratified by the Spanish Government and that would oblige to approve an unemployment benefit, which until now they lack

Mercedes retired a year and a half ago, after working for 30 years in a house. After a lifetime working, his pension is so low that he says depressed the days he receives the income. She is accompanied by Patricia, still active, but with a similar career who will soon be three decades as a domestic worker. "We have had rights, paid vacations, salaries that, within what is heard out there, are not so bad, that is, we are privileged", they excuse themselves to highlight that other colleagues in the sector go through situations in which their rights they are even more vulnerable and those who want to show their support by being present at the rally.

"We are here because we want everyone to have the minimum rights that we have had, but even so we do not have the right to unemployment and retirement is left in a mess." In spite of everything, they are there, to support and demand that they be recognized as workers, "which is what we are," says one of them eagerly.
Although Mercedes and Patricia are Spanish, the statistics indicate that most of the domestic workers are of foreign origin, so, in turn, they have to deal with the added obstacles imposed by the Immigration Law.

Annely Matos gets carried away by the rhythm of the batukada that strongly accompanies the slogans of these women. He does not lack energy, nor does he lack sympathy. This 43-year-old woman of Dominican origin has been working as a domestic worker since she arrived in Spain in 1993. First she worked as an intern, just like the person who gave her life. "My mother worked as an intern since she arrived in Spain, specifically in Madrid, in 1990 until, recently, she retired." Now she is 68 years old and after almost three decades working, she survives with "a very precarious retirement, but what she does not have is a house, she has to live in a room in a shared apartment," laments her daughter.

Of the first years they spent together, mother and daughter, on this side of the pond, remember that they had nothing. "We did not know anyone, we did not have any network", explains an aspect that is part of her past because since she met the SEDOAC collective -which is now ten years old- she says she feels "accompanied" and "empowered". "I have known my rights and I can also help other women who go through the same," he celebrates.

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