UGT, rights groups urge protection for domestic workers

Mostly female domestic workers in Spain are paid low wages, with scant health & safety protection. Photo: Nueva Tribuna
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Spain’s Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT) trade-union federation has called on the the government to fully incorporate into Spain’s social security system hundreds of thousands of domestic employees the UGT says are working for low wages, with no guaranteed health and safety conditions at work and without access to adequate social security benefits in case of illness or layoff.

In a statement issued Friday on the occasion of International Domestic Workers Day, the UGT said that currently 398,142 women are registered through the special domestic workers regime of Spain’s social security system, and that 42.1 percent of those are foreign-born nationals. The total number of women registered with the system as domestic workers is just 4.6 percent of the total 8.4 million women covered through the system, according to the UGT.

But the actual number of women working in the sector is likely much higher, according to many observers, since untold numbers of domestic workers receive cash remuneration that their employers do not report to government authorities so as to avoid payment of social security taxes.

Red Acoge, a federation of non-governmental organization working to protect the rights of immigrants and refugees in Spain, says the number of the women working as employees is at least 600,000, with women accounting for nine out of 10 domestic workers, nearly all of whom are from immigrant communities in Spain. In addition to low wages and lack of benefits, says Red Acoge, “many migrant women are victims of situations of harassment and sexual violence by their employers, which further increases the vulnerability to which they are exposed”.

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The UGT has called on the Spanish government to include domestic workers in the General Regime of the social security system beginning in January 2019 so that they can access full illness, layoff and unemployment, and retirement benefits accorded other Spanish workers. At the same time, the labour federation has urged the government to ratify the International Labor Organization’s 2011 Domestic Workers Convention, calling for decent wages and work conditions for domestic workers worldwide.

► Read More in Spanish at Nueva Tribuna, Sexta Noticias and RRHH Digital …

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