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Union leader Bautista Union leader Bautista and green gloves, symbols in the fight for improved conditions for domestic workers.

Union winning fight for domestic workers

Contracts with wages starting at 250 pesos daily in effect in five states

Labor stability and lawful benefits normally granted to Mexican workers may soon be available to more than 2.3 million people employed as domestic laborers.

The efforts of a new trade union, with support from the National Council to Prevent Discrimination, or Conapred, have now made it mandatory in certain states for employers who hire unionized domestic workers to do so under established contracts.

According to an employment poll performed by INEGI, the national statistics institute, 95% of domestic workers are women, of whom three-quarters earn twice the daily minimum wage or less (146 pesos or US $7.20).

Only 4% of those workers are employed under the terms of a contract in which their rights and obligations are clearly stated.

Just under 20% are enrolled in the IMSS health care program, 65% never get a vacation, 47% don’t receive the year-end bonus called the aguinaldo and 45% don’t have a fixed income amount, according to the INEGI survey.

“In 2014, one out of every 10 people surveyed disagreed with granting these workers retirement plans or written contracts,” said the president of the National Council to Prevent Discrimination (Conapred).

“Stereotypes like these have perpetuated this situation for decades, and we are 100 years behind in this regard,” said Alexandra Haas.

“The Labor Secretariat continues to allow longer work days and exclusion from IMSS programs for domestic workers,” she added.

But the National Union of Domestic Workers, created in 2015, has achieved the historical requirement for employers to provide domestic workers with contracts, establishing four different categories according to the worker’s responsibilities and an eight-hour work day.

Those who perform general cleaning duties and do some shopping are included in the first category and should be paid 250 pesos per day.

Those in the second category have the same duties as well as doing laundry and looking after people and/or pets. Their salary is set at 350 pesos a day.

The third category encompasses the duties of the first two plus caring for sick, elderly or disabled people, and carries a daily salary of 450 pesos.

The fourth category takes in all the others with the addition of haute cuisine cooking and caring for minors, for a 550-peso daily salary.

Those daily salaries are expected to increase by 5% annually.

“We also seek to eradicate the use of demeaning slurs, sexual harassment and any kind of discrimination,” said the leader of the Domestic Workers Union.

“It has been a constant and hard fight, but today we can say we are achieving our goals,” said Marcelina Bautista, whose union has 500 members in the states of México, Puebla, Colima, Chiapas and Mexico City, the states in which the new labor regulations apply.

The union’s challenge now is “to reach all the states, and let [domestic] workers know and assert their rights.”

Source: Milenio (sp)

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