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News > Spain

Spain: Latin American Domestic Workers to Claim Labor Rights

  • Domestic workers at a demonstration in front of the Congress in Madrid, Spain, June 27, 2018.

    Domestic workers at a demonstration in front of the Congress in Madrid, Spain, June 27, 2018. | Photo: EFE

Published 27 July 2019

The ratification of the ILO 189 convention would allow domestic workers to access social security and other benefits.

Latin American domestic workers living in Spain are mobilizing to ensure that their labor rights are respected, especially ​​​​​​ those related to gender empowerment and self-esteem.


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The ratification of the 2011 Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, also known as the Convention 189 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), is one of their main struggles,  Carolina Elias, the president of the Active Domestic Service Association (Sedoac), said on Saturday.

On July 22, during his investiture speech, Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez defended the need to ratify such convention, which would allow women to access social security and other benefits enjoyed by other workers.

Currently about 601,000 people are engaged in household activities in Spain, 528,000 of which are women, according the National Statistics Institute (INE).

In this European country, one in three women domestic workers is not registered with Social Security, which affects not only their health conditions but their access to other labor rights.

"In the meme, the banner reads, "I am a domestic worker, not your sex slave."

Domestic workers also require the reformulation of the Spanish Immigration Law, which requires a legal stay of three years before being able to apply for permanent residence.

"This law condemns foreign domestic workers to work three years in the submerged economy," Elias denounced and added that "before that time, they cannot get papers and cannot work on anything else."

According to Elena Vega, the Cordobesa Platform Against Violence Against Women spokesperson, the struggle of domestic workers is important to reduce violence against all women in Spain, a country where 1 out of 3 women have been killed between 2003 and 2017.

"Sharing time with other domestic workers... helps me overcome self-esteem problems," said Karla Alvarado, a Honduran woman who has been working as a maid for 13 years in Madrid. Some time ago, she had a traumatic experience in a job in which she was like a prisoner and "monitored by cameras 24 hours a day, seven days a week."​​​​​​​

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