|“Our place is here”, a campaign for the rights of domestic workers by Status Now Signatory Kanlungan
Since the official launch of the hostile environment policy in 2012, domestic workers were stripped of their rights to switch employers and apply for extension of stay and settlement. With the change to the Overseas Domestic Workers (ODW) visa introduced in that year, stays are limited to six months and migrant domestic workers have become tied to individual employers as sponsors. They are denied the freedom to switch employer even in cases where a worker is a victim of modern-day slavery or human trafficking. The impact of this change on the life of dozens of thousands people has been devastating. A survey conducted in 2019 by the Voice of Domestic Workers found that 77% of migrant domestic workers experienced physical, verbal or sexual abuse; 51% reported that they were not given enough food; 61% were not given their own space in employers’ houses.
To mark a decade since the Government revoked the rights of domestic workers, Kanlungan — a signatory of SNN — has started a new partnership with FDWA-UK (Filipino Domestic Workers’Association), Kalayaan, and The Voice of Domestic Workers to campaign for the rights of migrant domestic workers in the UK. Together, we have developed our campaign ‘Our Place Is Here’ centred on advocating for migrant domestic workers’ belonging to the UK and their right to work and live here. We are joining together to call for the government to restore the rights of domestic workers.
Campaign materials and imagery have been co-developed with domestic workers through creative workshops led by daikon* zine. Gal-dem, an online and print magazine, also delivered a personal essay writing workshop. To determine campaign strategy and improve our support for domestic workers, we have organised community conversations on workers’ experiences.
We will be coming together in person Wednesday 20 July, 7-10pm, at Refettorio Felix (where we are having our campaign residency) in Earl’s Court to talk about the campaign and for workers to share excerpts from essays they have written as part of the gal-dem workshops. Event is free and open to all, but spaces are limited! Please register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-night-with-gal-dem-tickets-354562675507
Domestic work is work! Migrants’ rights are human rights! Our place is here.