“Workers not slaves!” – Domestic Workers of Timor Take Demands to Streets
For years the women who work in the homes of Dili have been denied a decent wage, have had their rights ignored, and have not received the respect they deserve.
But domestic workers in Dili have been building a collective voice through the Working Women’s Centre of Timor Leste, an organisation that is campaigning for legislative changes that would recognise the rights of domestic workers in Timor’s labour laws.
This year the Working Women’s Centre took to the streets with hundreds of Timorese Domestic Workers to celebrate International Domestic Workers Day and restate their demands to the Timorese government for dignity and rights at work.
Ricar Pascoela, a coordinator at the Working Women’s Centre, said that:
“Through the solidarity march we demonstrate awareness in promoting and securing domestic workers. The time has come for domestic workers in Timor-Leste to get legal protection and for no worker to be left behind in the process of national development.”
Domestic work in Timor Leste is a growing industry. It attracts mostly young women from rural areas to the cities in search of work, but these workers are often not fully informed of their rights, which leaves them vulnerable to exploitation from employers.
The majority earn well below the minimum wage of just $115 per month, and many are prevented from accessing their right to sick leave. It is common for these women to work long hours, with no right to refuse a shift or earn paid overtime. In response to this situation of indecent work, the women of Dili declared:
“Domestic work is work, not slavery!”
After the solidarity march, domestic workers continue to mobilise as advocates for improvements in their own workplace conditions as well as support union members from other industries to champion a national rise in the Timor Leste minimum wage.
Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA supports the Women’s Working Centre of Timor Leste in partnership with the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP)
"Workers are not slaves"
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