Socialist Worker

Domestic workers: ‘No return to slavery’

Issue No. 2268

Over 150 migrant domestic workers rallied outside parliament last Sunday against government proposals that they say would mean a “return to slavery”.

Home Office minister Damien Green proposes scrapping the domestic workers’ visa. Domestic workers would instead have to enter the country as “visitors” without the right to change employers or to apply for settlement in Britain.

The rally was organised by the Unite union and the Kalayaan charity. It brought together women workers from countries including India, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Indonesia and the Philippines. Their employers include leading industrialists, bankers and dignitaries.

Noor from Indonesia told Socialist Worker, “We are not ‘visitors’—we are workers here.”

The current system is far from adequate. A number of the workers on the protest had run away from abusive employers.

But under the new they would be breaking the law. Workers like Joy, whose employers flew back to Nigeria with her papers, would face deportation.

Mira, from the Philippines, was kept locked in the house by a former employer who also abused her “physically and mentally”.

She said, “When I ran away I met other domestic workers and found out about our rights. Now we’re here to fight for those rights. We won’t go back to slavery.”

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Tue 6 Sep 2011, 18:56 BST
Issue No. 2268
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