Last 16th of June was the 8th anniversary of ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention 2011(No.189; on Decent Work for Domestic Workers). The convention was overwhelmingly approved by ILO memberstates including the Republic of Korea. It is also the anniversary of International Domestic Workers’ Day, when the rights of domestic workers was turned into reality worldwide after the declaration in 101st Session of the International Labour Conference. 


    In commemoration of this respectful day, Korean Domestic Workers Association(Domestic workers’ rights activist organization under Korean Women Workers Association) hosted a press conference on the legislation of the Special Act on Domestic Workers and campaigned in Gwanghwamun Square urging: “Domestic workers’ labour rights should be protected”. 





    Domestic workers who joined the event displayed discriminative words they actually heard from employers on the cork board, which were often insulting and offensive. Some of those words were rather cruel: Suspiscions like ‘I can’t see my ring’, ‘Have you seen my purse?’, or Disrespects- ’You don’t need to come to work from tomorrow(on a text message)’, ’You don’t have a trustworthy impression’, ‘Old lady’, ‘Housekeeper’, etc- were displayed, showing that many domestic workers are suffering from prejudice and disrespect. By erasing those words altogether with citizens and other activists, the domestic workers were able to erase the wounds in their hearts.





     Korean Domestic Workers Association has been stating and campaigning that using the term ‘domestic worker’ instead of ‘housekeeper’ can attribute in social recognition for domestic workers. Still, many people underevaluate the significance of domestic labor, merely thinking it as a repetitive and simple chorse. It is a matter of course that proper recognition on domestic labor will bring respect for domestic workers, resulting in better domestic labor service, thus there ought to be the change in our common perception towards domestic workers.   





     The members of Korean Domestic Workers Association had been building up movements to raise awareness in the labor rights of domestic workers while fighting against the stigma on  domestic workers and labor. They had been urging that the “Labor Standard Act”‘s loophole  excluding domestic labor from the definition of labor is a serious discrimination against social justice. While protesting against the injustice, the members were able to announce themselves proudly as a activist and laborer. 



     During the press conference, one of the members shared their work experience and how proud they feel as a professional domestic worker.




[ Hello. I am Kim Soon-Duk from Incheon branch. I am one of the domestic worker who does cleaning, laundry, cooking, and etc. I am not a caretaker, so usually I work without supervisor. But I always work hard and sincerely since there are lot to take care of. 

  I was deeply disappointed when the clients blamed me for stealing their valuables Some of the clients often put their belongings too deep inside their lockers and forgot where it was originally. But often, I was the one to be blamed for the loss. I heard the suspicious doubts from the clients for multiple times, but all of them found their belongings at home. Those suspiscions were very hurful and disappointing. Once, there was a client who worked in China that blamed me for stealing his passport, since it could be used in many countries. I asked the client about the details, but he was merely suspecting me although his memories weren’t clear. He called me almost ten times a day and threatened me, telling me about the immigration office and his respectful friends. I suggested that it would be better if he notifies the case to the police, but he refused. He told me that it can’t be a case since there is no evidence and got offended by what I sad. This made me very heartbroken and upset. 

  It is very difficult to work hard after hearing these groundless suspiscion, but all I could do is to ask my clients to trust me. If the domestic workers become widely recognized as a normative profession, I believe that those groundless suspiscion and ignorance will no longer happen. I want to work with trust and dignity. Thus, I am looking foward for the national assembly to pass the legislation on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. ] 


After the hearing, domestic workers read the letters to citizens aloud, and proceeded the campaign insisting the legislation on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. 


There needs to be a social recognition admitting that domestic labor should treated as a lawful and equal labor. Therefore, there needs to be a legal recognition on domestic laborers by including domestic labor as an “employee” in Korean Labor law, especially in the “Labor Standard Act”. 




Accordingly, we strongly urge that the Korean government must establish the legislation on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. 





Posted by KWWA