IDWF Inks Deal with Bahrain Trade Union to Protect Domestic Workers
Photo: IDWF-Bahrain sign MoU

The International Domestic Workers Federation has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions to protect rights of migrant domestic workers in Bahrain.

IDWF president Myrtle Witbooi and GFBTU deputy general secretary A. Qader A. Karim Al Shehabi signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations at 108th conference of International Labour Organization in Geneva.

IDWF regional coordinator Fish Ip from the ILO conference confirmed the Migration News about signing the deal.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Shehabi  said that ‘We need IDWF and domestic workers’ leaders to reach out to workers and provide training for domestic workers so that they know their rights.’

Witbooi said that the IDWF has to ensure that all domestic workers were protected in whatever country they work.

‘This is a great occasion and we hope it will be the start of many agreements between us and countries,’ she said.

IDWF, a global organization of domestic and household workers, inked the MoU on the eve of the International Domestic Workers Day to be celebrated on June 16 to commemorate adoption of ILO Convention 189 that stipulates decent work for domestic workers.

Bangladesh National Domestic Women Workers Union, member of IDWF, welcomed the MoU signing as its general secretary Murshida Akter told Migration News that the instrument would help protect rights of Bangladeshi domestic workers in Bahrain.

She said that Bangladesh government failed to properly implement the national domestic workers policy, adopted by the cabinet about four years ago.

‘We demand Bangladesh to ratify the ILO convention 189,’ she said.

The MoU is expected to be a milestone to strengthen the collaboration between GFBTU and IDWF to help migrant domestic workers in Bahrain by ‘empowering them through education, organizing and advocacies and to help them in their urgent problems which for many instances can be remedied by legal assistance.

‘This agreement is the result of 2 years of collaboration with our partners such as the FES MENA Regional Trade Union Program, when we have been meeting annually to exchange information and knowledge on issues faced by migrant domestic workers and examine various practices to address them,’ said the IDWF press release.

There are around 100,000 domestic workers in Bahrain for a population of 1,450,000. One fourth of Migrant Domestic Workers are from India, followed by Filipinos, Ethiopians (18.7%), and by domestic workers from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Kenya who constitute 23.6% of the remaining MDWs' population.

In 2017, reforms were introduced in Bahrain following the approval by the Labor Market Regulatory Authority in Bahrain of a dual/tripartite unified standard contract for domestic workers that must be signed between the recruitment agency, worker and employer, and a second one between the worker and the employer, the press release said.

‘The unified contract is a step forward that would ensure the protection of MDWs in Bahrain; however, it needs further reform to outline working hours, minimum wage and rest time, in additional to an enforcement mechanism due to the inspectors’ lack of authority to enter private homes.’

The MoU is for two years and can be extended and it will bring the two organizations to implement joint activities together.

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