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UK urged to back slavery convention

The Government must support an international convention to protect domestic workers from abuse and slavery, according to a coalition of charities.

Anti-Slavery International said abuse of migrant domestic workers in the UK is common and a new domestic worker convention would help ensure fair pay, working conditions and hours.

Government delegates are on Wednesday gathering in Geneva for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conference, with a vote on whether to create the convention due to take place on June 15.

An Anti-Slavery spokesman said: "The rights of workers, including those relating to working hours and minimum wage, must be extended to all areas of work, including where applicable employers' homes, in order to prevent abuses that can quickly lead to forced labour or servitude, crimes now punishable in the UK with up to 14 years in prison."

The charity said the Government was fearful of interfering in people's home arrangements, but should at least sign up to a principle of inspecting any home implicated in a complaint.

Audrey Guichon, Anti-Slavery International's domestic work co-ordinator, said: "By not fully backing the need to create this convention the UK Government is implying that it does not think domestic workers are 'real' workers and therefore do not deserve the same protection as everyone else.

"A new convention will be an important step for a better protection of their rights, and will promote domestic work as a valuable and respectable occupation.

"By setting in stone minimum standards for domestic workers in the UK, the convention would also help root out disreputable agencies currently undermining the reputation of the industry by trafficking women into conditions of slavery."

Oliver Pearce, Christian Aid's Middle East policy change officer, said: "It's important that the UK takes the lead in voting for this convention, as it would have significant influence on the protection of domestic workers around the world.

"Migrant domestic workers often face extreme exploitation and abuse."


From Belfast Telegraph