Homeowners should be open to surprise inspections by authorities to check on the welfare of domestic workers, a leading trade union body has said.
It also called for a major shift in terminologies, stating that maids should be referred to, in official documents, as domestic workers.
These were part of 18 recommendations issued following the two-day ‘Safe Migration of Domestic Workers’ conference that concluded yesterday.
“Contracts of domestic workers must include a condition that the homeowner would accept surprise inspections by concerned authorities and inspectors with judicial powers,” added the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) in its recommendations.
Currently, due to privacy concerns, inspectors cannot enter homes to check the conditions of housemaids or listen to their grievances, if any, on wages or violation of rights.
“We must launch more campaigns to ensure domestic workers and labourers are fully aware of their rights. We also need to scrap terms such as ‘maids’ and ‘escape’ in official documents and replace them with ‘domestic worker’ and ‘leaving’ as the former has a negative connotation,” the union said.
The conference was organised by the GFBTU in collaboration with German-based Friedrich Ebert Foundation. It was held under the patronage of Labour and Social Development Minister Jameel Humaidan at Downtown Rotana, Manama.
Other recommendations include mandatory education for domestic workers on social media platforms to ensure continued connection to the outside world and unifying GCC policies and decisions in the field.
Improved legislation which includes social protection, contracts and the right to join a union were also among the key recommendations.
The GFBTU called upon GCC countries to ratify international conventions on protecting rights of domestic workers and eliminating violence and harassment in the workplace.
“Developing a clear and accessible mechanism for domestic workers to file a labour complaint is critical to ensure easy access to justice,” the statement said.
“Trade unions must be included in any protocol or memorandum of understandings signed by the government if it is related to labour and the workforce.”
Meanwhile, the GFBTU also emphasised the importance of agreements between labour organisations in the country of origin and destination to facilitate communication and contact with domestic workers.
It further emphasised the importance of boosting co-ordination between authorities concerned in the country while preventing human trafficking and strengthening social dialogue. It stressed the need to revise all legislation and labour market programmes to ensure the rights of all involved.
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