National Union of Domestic Workers of Trinidad and Tobago fighting for the rights of domestic workers

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The National Union of Domestic Employees (NUDE) of Trinidad and Tobago is campaigning to secure recognition for domestic workers as workers under the Industrial Relations Act, organizing around a Caribbean-wide project to promote freedom of movement for domestic workers and promoting the ratification of Convention 189 (the Domestic Workers Convention) of the International Labor Organization. To support NUDE’s campaign, sign the petition here. 

According to NUDE, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago had originally proposed an amendment to the Industrial Relations Act in Parliament which included a recognition of domestic workers within the legislative definition of ‘worker.’ However, the amendment also proposed a definition of the term ‘employer’ that suggests that an employer of a domestic worker would only refer to someone who employees three and more domestic workers. This definition weakens protections for domestic workers by restricting the inclusion of employers who are accountable to comply with national standards relating to domestic workers. The Act was also criticized by many trade unions in Trinidad and Tobago who allege that there was a lack of consultation regarding the amendment.

While the Act has stalled in Parliament due to the controversy that it prompted, NUDE and other trade unions are working to raise awareness about the need to establish inclusive definitions of ‘worker’ and ‘employer’ in order to  clarify responsibilities under the Industrial Relations Act and guarantee needed protections for domestic workers. To support NUDE’s campaign, sign the petition here. 

Meanwhile, NUDE is also mobilizing in support of a project that aims to promote the rights of domestic workers and artisans in the Caribbean Single Market Economy that is led by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The project, which was initiated by the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) in Barbados, calls for NUDE and other unions to be able to certify domestic workers in order to allow them freedom of movement throughout the Caribbean.  Currently, domestic workers are allowed to move freely through the Caribbean if they acquire a Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ). However, in practice, but Jamaica is the only country offering the CVQ and this certification is usually restricted to workers in certain sectors.  NUDE is collaborating with unions of domestic workers in Jamaica, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis and Barbados in order to strengthen their membership and lobby for the legislation and regulatory framework necessary to guarantee the human rights of domestic employees. 

These activities, that seek to strengthen protections for domestic workers in the Caribbean region, are consistent with NUDE’s overarching campaign to promote the ratification of Convention 189 (the Domestic Workers Convention) of the International Labor Organization. Through campaigning, lobbying, organizing and networking, the union of domestic workers of Trinidad and Tobago is working to advance the human rights of domestic employees.