The government should look out – it is about to hear from 120 migrant domestic workers about why they should not scrap the domestic worker visa! Opposition to the government’s latest proposals to reform the domestic worker visa took a major leap forward this weekend with an inspiring meeting of migrant domestic workers in London on Sunday.
Organised by Justice for Domestic Workers, Kalayaan, MRN and Unite the Union, the meeting brought together 120 workers determined not to lie down and accept the changes currently on the table which could strip domestic workers in the future of the hard-won visa which provides at least some protection from abuse by employers – and could also prevent them from settling and bringing their families to the UK. The meeting was buzzing with energy and determination to tell the government that domestic workers have the right for their work to be valued, to enjoy protection from abuse, the ability to live in security and to have a family life – rights that anyone could reasonably expect.
The meeting began by hearing views from Marissa Begonia, the convenor of Justice for Domestic Workers, and from individual migrant domestic workers about the proposals and their experiences in the UK. Participants then heard from Diana Holland (Deputy General Secretary of Unite the Union); Bridget Anderson (campaigner and researcher at COMPAS, Oxford University) and Ruth Grove-White (MRN) about the detail of the proposals, and the value of responding to the consultation both collectively and individually.
The rest of the meeting was given over to enabling that every person present could respond to the consultation questions on domestic workers themselves if they wanted to – the vast majority did, and many took the opportunity to write their own views in addition to indicating yes/no answers to the questions. Kalayaan will now send all responses to the Home Office for consideration when developing the final proposals. In doing so it has the support of Unite the Union, MRN and many other organisations who are joining the fight for the rights of domestic workers. The battle is just beginning…