The Birth of International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF)

 

Domestic workers of the world unite on October 28th! We have done it, the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF) was founded to organize domestic workers of the world. When the constitution was passed, 200 people in the community hall of the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, chanted and danced in joy, waving their ballots and embracing each other in solidarity. The venue echoed with the slogan "Sí, se puede!" (We did it!) and "Solidarity Forever!".

 

International Solidarity is Not Merely a Slogan, The Organization of Domestic Workers Enhance Strength

The founding affiliates of the IDWF consisted of 47 unions from a total of 42 countries, our affiliate -- Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers' Unions (FADWU) is also one of the members while the vice president of FADWU, Sister Phobsuk Gasing, was elected as one of six executive committee members, representing domestic workers organizations from Asia. And Sister Elizabeth Tang was elected as the Chief Executive. Sister Myrtle Witbooi from South Africa and Sister Ernestina Ochoa from Peru were elected as President and Vice-President respectively.

The organizing of domestic workers from around the world started in 2006.  The first international conference of domestic workers was held in the Netherlands. Afterwards, the International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN) was established in 2009, and mobilized domestic workers to participate and fight for the ratification the International Domestic Workers Labour Convention. Leading to the eventual ratification of Convention C189 on June 16th, 2011. The IDWN chose to hold her inaugural conference in Uruguay because it was the first country to sign C189 while the country passed comprehensive legislation to protect domestic workers, including the right to collective bargaining. The closing remark of the inaugural conference was presented by Uruguayan President, the Hon. Jose Mujica, and after the presentation, President Mujica came forward to embrace our working sisters.

 

Hong Kong Representative Elected as Executive Committee Member, Learn from the Experience of the Americans
Sister Phobsuk was especially emotional when she was elected as the executive committee member. She led the participants from the audience to chant "Su Su Su!", which means “to fight” in Thai. She admitted that a lot of responsibilities now rested upon her shoulder after the election and modestly claimed that: “Regardless of borders and languages, as long as you are willing to express sincere intentions and work tirelessly, we can still make concerted efforts.” Sister Phobsuk acknowledged the legislation to protect domestic workers in Latin America is very comprehensive and hope to push for governments to recognize domestic workers labor rights in Asia. And most importantly, is to empowering domestic workers in acknowledging their rights and have the ability to stand up for their rights against governments, employers. The IDWF will serve as a platform to gather strength in international solidarity, and fight for every domestic workers from all over globe!

 

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