The Voice of Domestic Workers (VODW) – Response to the Coronavirus
The Voice of Domestic Workers celebrated its 11th Anniversary last 15th March 2020 with precautionary measures in response to the CV19 outbreak. All who attended were required to wash their hands once they entered the Unite the Union building in Holborn where the Sundays’ activities of VODW is held every Sunday.
The usual greetings of hugging each other and cheek-to-cheek kissing and handshakes were banned, use of serving spoons during lunch celebration was strictly used and those who were not feeling well were asked not to attend. Compulsory attendance was not enforced and anyone who was afraid to travel was encouraged to stay at home.
The Coronavirus outbreak is impacting individuals and communities which requires a collective response to fight together to heal and cure this deadly disease.
How We're Dealing with the Coronavirus:
As of March 16th, we have received information from some of our members have been stopped by their employers, refusing to allow them to leave their houses, threatening our members saying, ‘If they dare go out, they are not to come back, and in short, they will be terminated'. VODW member Wendy told us in unexpected situations like this, that although she understands that is for the family and her own safety, ‘The problem is I couldn’t go out to buy my own food and I cannot send money for my family because “If I go out, I’m not allowed to come back”, I’ll be homeless!’
There are live-out members who have also reported to us that employers have suddenly told them not to come back. VODW member Gene said her employer told her to ‘Pack [her] things and don’t come back’. Gene continued, ‘My employer didn’t even clear if I will receive a salary or not, I am not just worried for myself but also for my family because I couldn’t remit money anymore now that I’m jobless.’
VODW member Lita is working as a live-out carer to an elderly individual and her employer has suddenly prohibited her from going home. Lita says, ‘I’m not allowed to cook or eat their food, what shall I eat?’
For domestic workers who are working part-time, this effectively makes them as "no work, no pay" workers. These uncertainties of whether or not they will still have their jobs after this pandemic are causing major problems to the mental and emotional health of migrant domestic workers who already suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and are currently accessing counselling in VODW every Sunday because of their previous exploitative and abusive poor work conditions.
VODW management acted quickly and put out a public funding appeal to support the basic needs of our members.
Here is the link to our efforts in protecting our members to survive this crisis: support here.
We are also in touch with our volunteers and other communities to ensure we can reach out to our members who need food supply at their doorstep.