This letter comes to you from our Status Now Network signatory, the Kanlungan Filipino Consortium and their partner, the Filipino Domestic Workers Association.
“We salute the invisible workforce of domestic workers and celebrate their contribution to society on this International Domestic Workers day, 16 June 2020.
Yet many domestic workers in the UK, and indeed all over the world, are migrants. They are extremely vulnerable because their visas often tie them to an individual employer. This gives the employer enormous power over them and can expose these workers to violence and sexual abuse. Many of our undocumented workers work in almost slave-like conditions.
At the height of the corona virus pandemic, many domestic workers lost their jobs because their employers were afraid they might “carry” the virus. Many of them who were “live in” were evicted rendered homeless. They were pushed into overcrowded accommodation with friends and relatives. Some contracted the virus and some died. Many of those who kept their jobs were confined with their employers in the lockdown and ended up having to serve their employers day and night.
But also many thousands of these domestic workers, also carers for isolated elderly people, have provided them with vital care during the pandemic thus far. These workers were shown to be literally “lifesavers” for many vulnerable people in our communities:
“Even if it’s dangerous, even if it’s risky for me, I have to go out and work to provide for my family.” – John
Domestic workers sacrifice their lives and liberties because they need to earn money to send back to their families to keep them safe and healthy. For many migrant domestic workers, the most difficult thing of all is not to be able to send money to your loved ones. We honour their determination to help others:
“It’s very difficult when someone asks you and you can’t give. That’s the most difficult thing for a person, for me.” Ferrari
We honour their courage to fight and survive many hardships.
“The thing is, you need to survive. It’s about survival now. If you get depressed then you get lost.” Markova
Join our global rally at 3pm on 16 June 2020 for people in the UK and Ireland, to honour our migrant domestic workers.
Phoebe Dimacali, Chairperson, Filipino Domestic Workers’ Association
Susan Cueva. Trustee, Kanlungan Filipino Consortium”