‘They have been abused right, left and centre...’
Manual, PSAs launched to raise awareness about entitlements, importance of domestic workers
From left, gender advocate and People’s National Party caretaker for Kingston Central Imani Duncan-Price; Jamaica Household Workers Union (JHWU) executive member Elaine Duncan; Minister of Labour and Social Security Karl Samuda; director of policy and research at the Bureau of Gender Affairs Nardia McLaren; and board member at JHWU Lana Finikin, at the launch of the JHWU Manual for Household Workers and Employers in Jamaica Thursday. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

“I used to work with a nice, nice family as a helper then one day nuh the husband mi see appear inna the bedroom and waan do things wid me!”

Those are the words from one of the public service announcements (PSAs) launched last Thursday by Jamaica Household Workers Union (JHWU) relating to sexual harassment in the domestic workspace.

“I just fight him off and bawl out and when me bawl out, the wife hear enuh, but she never know what took place and she fire me the next day. So mi just lef and nuh tell har weh happen,” the PSA continues.

According to JHWU President Shirley Pryce, the public service announcements were well needed.

“As domestic workers, they work behind closed doors and they have been abused right, left and centre but because they don’t have the will; they take the abuse because they don’t want to lose their jobs,” she said.

PRYCE...Employers need to recognise that their house is a workplace and domestic workers are there to work

“As a union we say walk, leave the job, because you’re not going to stay in that situation at all. We thought it was prudent to have this awareness campaign on social media, radio and television,” she added.

The other public service announcement focuses on rights and responsibilities for the household sector.

Both announcements were launched with the Manual for Household Workers and Employers in Jamaica as the union celebrated its 31st anniversary and International Domestic Workers Day.

They are expected to raise awareness about the entitlements and the importance of domestic workers.

“Employers need to recognise that their house is a workplace and domestic workers are there to work. We are saying if they are at work, and you’re asking for sexual favours, touching and want to behave as if you want to hold their pay because they don’t want to do that, it’s wrong. We have to have the awareness campaign to state that it’s wrong,” said Pryce.

At the same time, Pryce continues to reiterate calls for the Government to make efforts in ratifying the International Labour Organization (ILO) convention on the elimination of violence and sexual harassment in the world of work (C190).

The convention would offer household workers protection from sexual harassment.

C190, the first international treaty to recognise the right of all to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment, was adopted in June 2019 by the International Labour Conference of the ILO.

It came into force on June 25, 2021, but Jamaica is among 178 countries that have not yet ratified.

BRITTNY HUTCHINSON

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