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Domestic workers ‘need protection’

Laws ensuring decent conditions are too long in coming, rights group says

Domestic workers ‘need protection’
Yuniyanti Chuzaifah (centre) at the conference
Chelluz Pahun, Jakarta

February 15, 2012

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The chairwoman of the National Commission on Violence against Women says the need to provide protection that is enshrined in law for domestic workers is more acute than ever. “The number of domestic workers is getting bigger. But the problems they face are also many,” Yuniyanti Chuzaifah said at a discussion on the working conditions of maids and servants yesterday at the commission’s office in Jakarta. These problems, according to various reports, include exploitation, long working hours, unpaid overtime, physical violence and sexual abuse. Convention No 189, a treaty adopted last June by the International Labor Organization, stipulates that domestic work means “work,” Chuzaifah added. “So it is not a service. Domestic workers are, like other workers, entitled to decent working conditions,” she continued. By ratifying the convention and also passing a bill on the protection of domestic workers, she said, “the state will be acknowledging domestic workers as people engaged in proper work and safeguard their rights.” Calls for such a bill have gathered pace since 2004, but so far the government has yet to draft any legislation. However, a lawmaker has said that “a committee has been formed and will start working on a bill soon.” Oki Asokawati says the bill will cover several important issues such as a proper wage, decent working conditions, maternity leave, accommodation, and proper healthcare and education. “The main issue is that domestic work is an occupation,” she said.     Related Report: Indonesians fight for rights bill for maids (    
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