Migrant domestic workers face Wage Slavery In Modern Ireland


Would you accept a job without signing a proper legal contract? A job that means working long days for 400 euro a month doing chores like ironing, cooking, laundering, cleaning a 4 bed house and even mean babysitting four children aged between two and seven years old?All of this while your boss is doing nothing and only speaks to you to give orders and complain about how little work you did on a day when you were feeling sick? Would you be able to do much in our overpriced cities, with what little money you earned, during the few hours off you are given during the week?

Would you pay an agency to hire you for this fantastic ‘job’ even if they don’t care if you are having problems or if the children in the house refer to you as their slave while your boss shouts at you for no reason or even threatens to hit you.

Well, some people would apparently. Yes, in modern Ireland, there are people weeping in their rooms because of isolation and exploitation. Yes, it’s happening in rich areas like Dalkey or Blackrock, and other affluent areas in Dublin and cities throughout Ireland too.

Irish families who knowingly employ these foreign workers, who naively enough think they will learn English this way, as babysitters. Within families, who employ cheap foreign workers to get their domestic chores done, underpaid, mistreated and physically and psychologically exhausted many end up running away from these houses.

How can we accept this situation? What can we do about it? Everybody would agree that the present role of the vast majority of women as full-time unpaid domestics and child-minders within the family must be ended. However, it is also important to prevent the exploitation of migrant domestic workers.

Labour laws should apply to these workers and specific contracts should be put in place. Some unions are already trying to come up with new regulations for these workers. In the meantime we can all do something about it and avoid hiring babysitters or domestic workers from these agencies. Let’s stop this human traffic. As a worker, know your rights, ask for help. Organise!

This article comes from the "Lucy Parsons" newsletter which is the newsletter of the WSM's Lucy Parsons branch.