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May 2020 VODW Update

Welcome to all our new subscribers! Please make sure you share and help get the word out. We'll be sending an update every month and will be blogging more this year. 

VODW campaigning pre-Covid-19
Our Work Continues

For our new subscribers: 

Migrant Domestic Workers (MDWs) are workers in private households where families live. We cook, clean, care for children, the elderly, family members and pets. We also do laundry, ironing, gardening, driving, shopping and manage everything around the household. 

Domestic workers are key workers too because we look after the health, social, and financial well-being to families of this nation.

VODW educates and empowers us about our rights regardless of our status. It is also important that we are able to stand-up against any forms of abuse and exploitation. We want our voice to be heard.

We have been raising the problems we face. Last May 13, Jess Philips, MP has tabled questions about Overseas Domestic Workers, information sessions, and MDWs whose visas are expiry due to expiry during the pandemic lockdown. Written answers can be found here dated May 18: https://www.parliament.uk/writtenanswers

For Visa extension information here: https://gov.smartwebportal.co.uk/homeoffice/public/ho_form.html

We’re launching a campaign very soon and we’ll give you more details but until then here’s a preview of what we’ve been working on:

Campaign Background

In 2012 UK Government scrapped all rights Migrant Domestic Workers leaving us all more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation because we couldn’t change employer, we couldn’t renew our visa, we have no right to indefinite leave to remain and no right to British Citizenship. We have six Months Visa entry only and this Overseas Domestic Worker Visa is non-renewable so we ended undocumented after our visa expired. In 2016, following the review of James Ewins, Government announced two reforms;

 1. Overseas Domestic Worker visa holders would be allowed to change employer, for any reason, within the six month period they were admitted to the UK (but would not be eligible to extend their stay in the UK)  

2. Overseas Domestic Worker visa holders who receive a positive conclusive grounds decision under its anti-trafficking screening system the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) can apply for further leave to remain as a domestic worker for up to two years  

Re-instating the right to change employer within 6 Months only and not allowing us to renew our visas is useless, we also ended undocumented. We are tied to a system that tolerates modern slavery. The Voice of Domestic Workers along with Unite the Union, Kalayaan, Anti-slavery International and other allies are calling for the UK for the following changes;

• A reversion to the Overseas Domestic Worker visa that existed before 2012 that allowed domestic workers to change employers and renew the visa for an unlimited time, provided they were in full-time employment as a domestic worker in a private household.

 • The criminal offence for undocumented working in the Immigration Act (2016) to be repealed and employment rights separated from immigration status so workers can claim their employment rights regardless of status.

June 16 is the International Domestic Workers Day, 9 Years since ILO C189 was voted as a convention in 2011 and this was day also that the UK abstained and removed all rights of domestic workers the following year 2012. A step backwards towards modern slavery. We welcome the UK’s ratification of ILO C188, Work in Fishing Convention in 2019 like migrant domestic workers, fishermen are also vulnerable workers but we couldn’t help to wonder if the UK will ever ratify the Domestic Workers Convention. There are 29 countries that have already ratified ILO C189. This convention is one step forward for domestic workers worldwide but not for UK domestic workers. Domestic workers continue to hold on the knife’s edge. Wherever we step, there is fire.  

 

Why Migrant Domestic Workers Need to be Recognised as Workers with Proper Working Visas
Our Covid-19 Update 

We continue to provide regular weekly food delivery and money transfer to our members who have been affected by Covid-19. There are 65 domestic workers receiving support.

Thank you for all of you who have donated in our hardship fund appeal and for everybody who helped us share and promote widely, like Guardian journalist Owen Jones whose tweet below brought more attention to our Hardship Fund Appeal.

We are able to survive and continue to provide support because of you, Thank You!

Covid-19 Hardship Fund Appeal 

The Hardship Fund Appeal that our management team has set-up has been a big help to our members who have been affected by Covid-19 is still accepting donations.
Donate to the Covid-19 Hardship Fund
Covid-19 Briefing

For more information please read our Covid-19 briefing:

READ HERE: Migrant Domestic Workers and Covid-19: Risks Facing Front-line Care Workers
Covid-19 Testimony

Another VODW member shares their experience during the pandemic:
Covid-19 Testimony
Class Update and Competition

Our classes continue to grow as we provide one to one assistance to our members who have difficulties in adapting to new technology. We are doing a Quiz Bee for our Financial Wellness course as well as a video competition with a theme of "decent work for domestic workers" and a brochure competition for our IT Computer class.

The winners of the competitions will be announced on 16 June for International Domestic Workers Day and we're giving prizes for our hardworking learners! 
International Women's Day Celebration

Watch the VODW at the last International Women's Day Celebration at City Hall in London
Watch now!
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