Spain ratifies the ILO Convention 189 that extends the labor rights of domestic workers

Big day for domestic workers. A decade later, Spain ratifies ILO Convention 189, which extends the labor rights of this group of employees, made up of some 600,000 people. The vast majority, women and many of them, migrants. This international agreement of the International Labor Organization, from 2011, has been the constant vindication and priority of domestic workers in the last decade in Spain for what it implies of equalizing labor rights and social protection with other employees. Above all, because it requires unemployment protection, one of the biggest battles of these workers, the only profession excluded from the right to unemployment. An exclusion that is discriminatory, as recognized in February by the European justice.

European Justice concludes that Spain discriminates against domestic workers by denying them unemployment

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All the political groups have supported the ratification of Convention 189, as the spokespersons have explained in their interventions during the afternoon, although there has been one abstention. With 331 votes in favour, Parliament's support was celebrated by long applause.

From the guest gallery of the Congress, a group of representatives of domestic workers attended this Thursday the speeches and the vote on the agreement in plenary. Meanwhile, the rest of the compañeras gathered at the gates of Parliament, where a concentration was called together with feminist associations, which have also defended the historical fight against discrimination against this group of women. For the Feminist Assembly for Domestic Employment with Rights, the ratification is a "historic victory, the result of the efforts and mobilizations of many groups in recent years."

We are waiting for the vote, many have been left out, the quota is very limited.
We are here ✊🏿#Convention189#DecentHomeEmployment

— SEDOAC #EmpleoHogarDigno (@sedoac) June 9, 2022

The ratification of ILO Convention 189 is a step that has been promised many times in the past, but never fulfilled. In several non-law propositions, positions of Parliament without legislative effect, the political majority had been in favor of Spain joining this international agreement, but in the end it had never become law to the discouragement of these employees. Nor had any government taken it to Congress. Until now.

The coalition Executive of PSOE and United We Can took the step in the Council of Ministers on April 5, with the sending to the Cortes of the proposal for the ratification of the agreement. "It is a question of justice, and something more: the fulfillment of our commitments and the confirmation that the path of labor rights, undertaken by this Government, will never again leave domestic workers behind," said the vice president and minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz after giving the green light.

The signing of Convention 189 is a legislative commitment of the government coalition. Spain now begins a transition period in which it must legislate to comply with what has been signed. At this point I accept the political groups and the groups of domestic workers this Friday. Signing the treaty is only the first step, but the rights must be reflected in the legal framework for the improvements to come into practice, to the homes where these women work.

International law requires, for example, measures to be taken for “the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation” and that “domestic workers enjoy conditions no less favorable than the conditions applicable to workers in general with respect to the protection of social security”, among others.

Shortly before the European justice ruled that the refusal of unemployment indirectly discriminated against the group as women, Margarita and other workers told in this special some of the main shortcomings of the trade, which leads them to situations of great precariousness.

The Ministry of Labor already regulates unemployment

Although the Parliament gives the green light this June 9 to the ratification of the international agreement, the Ministry of Labor is already immersed in the regulation of the right to unemployment of domestic workers. It was planned for this mandate, but the regulations have been accelerated after the CJEU condemnation of Spain.

The regulation has in fact already started a countdown, with the notice of the vice president Yolanda Díaz that her Ministry will present the legislative text "in the next few days", she pointed out last week. This Tuesday, Díaz met with groups of domestic workers, who had requested a meeting with the person in charge of Labor to communicate her claims regarding the regulation of unemployment and other claims linked to Convention 189.

The second vice president has also advanced that the royal decree with the right to strike for these workers will also include more "extension of their rights", such as a dismissal reform. In this sense, under the spotlight is the figure of dismissal due to “withdrawal”, by which households can fire domestic workers without giving any cause and with cheaper compensation.

The deputies who have spoken in plenary before the vote have recognized the years of struggle of domestic workers, women and in many cases very precarious. Always repeating a number, over and over again: 189, 189, 189. A number that became a symbol in the fight for their labor and social rights, with protests in all formats. From recording discs with vindictive songs, bring toilet brushes to the deputies either dress with aprons statues in the main cities of the cities. All to try to draw attention, the focus of the media, on the conditions and lack of rights in a job that "continues to be undervalued and invisible", as remember the preamble of the international agreement. “Today we have won”, they said after the vote in the Domestic Territory, one of the historical associations of Madrid.

Today we have won. The #WorkersHomeandCare we have made history. From now on neither slaves nor submissive, workers with full rights.#Convention189 is ratified

— TerritorioDomestico (@Territoriodome1) June 9, 2022

The Feminist Assembly for Domestic Employment with Rights, a coordination space for groups of domestic workers and feminist associations, has released a document with eleven demands as a result of the ratification. Among them, the "full incorporation into the General Social Security Scheme, eliminating the special system" of domestic workers, the "elimination of the figure of withdrawal", "specific measures to guarantee effective labor inspections", the " strengthening of public care and support policies for families with lower incomes”, and the “implementation of the Extraordinary Regularization of migrants who are in Spain” through an ILP, among others.

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