Minister of Labour, Senator Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to workers’ rights. (G.Brewster/BGIS)

The Labour Ministry’s dedication to the protection of domestic workers’ rights was reaffirmed this morning, when Minister of Labour, Senator Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, received a petition from the Gender Equality Committee of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), which called for the ratification of ILO Convention 189 – Decent Work for Domestic Workers.

Speaking this morning at Solidarity House, Minister Byer-Suckoo noted that it was fitting that this request be made on International Women’s Day, as it was an issue which greatly affected this demographic.?? She assured those present that government would continue to support the Convention’s adoption and ratification, as well as other efforts relevant to championing employee rights.

She observed that "last year we did lay in Parliament the ILO recommendation for domestic workers, so we are on our way to ratifying [it]… Last year, we also started, in conjunction with UN Women [and the Bureau of Gender Affairs], a study looking at identifying the challenges that our domestic workers face…

"Coming out of that survey, we will be able to have discussions with our tripartite partners that will lead us to looking at legislation," the Labour Minister noted, adding that it was expected that the survey would be completed by May.

Dr. Byer Suckoo reminded those in attendance that Barbadian employees were protected by the Employment Rights Act, which was passed last May and which addresses the definitions of decent work, work structure and conditions and compensation.?? She added that, just as doctors, prison officers and teachers were able to present their concerns as a collective, domestic workers should be afforded the same rights.??

"Decent work means that the work must: be productive and provide a fair income; provide security in the workplace [and] social protection, as well in the event of injury and death or even job loss; [offer] freedom within that job to express concerns, to organise and to be able to contribute to decisions about their well being…," she stressed, adding that the Act applied to all workers in all work places, including the domestic space.

Senator, Dr. Byer Suckoo explained that under the Act, it is required for all workers to have a statement of particulars that specifies their duties, terms, conditions, compensation and wage slips which would indicate requisite deductions, such as NIS.??

Coordinator of the BWU Gender Equality Committee, Wilma Clement, thanked the Minister for her continued focus on the issues at hand and acknowledged government’s commitment to the plight of domestic workers, having been a part of the landmark adoption of the Convention in Geneva in 2011.

"We are recognising that we need to pay particular attention to the vulnerable workers in Barbados…but we want all of Barbados to recognise that they, too, have a part to play and while the union will do its part and the government…will do its part…we need to look after our brothers and sisters – the gas station workers, the cleaners, the general workers, all those workers whose work is not decent, who have no say, whose pay is sometimes dependent on the whims and fancies of the people whom they work with, who get no breaks," she said.


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