Estimates say that care and domestic work employs about 630.000 people, of which 426.000 have a contract and some social security coverage. As in the case of Italy, the feminization of migration is high in the country, with women equating the numbers of men, especially in the case of Latin-Americans, who are largely employed in Spanish households as caregivers. Migrants in total are more than 12% of the resident population in Spain.

Yet, when compared to the other two European countries, Spain has a later regulatory framework. The first law on domestic work was passed as late as 1985 and it is only in 2011 that a more comprehensive legislation for this category was introduced (Real Decreto 1620/2011), which however fails to equate domestic workers to other workers. The law 1620 was promulgated during the Zapatero government in 2011 – the same year of the C189. This law may be seen as the outcome of an intensified attention to the welfare needs of an ageing society, as well as to domestic and care workers’ rights. This happened in the context of a certain social dynamism in the aftermath of the 11M movement, the birth of Podemos, and increasing vocality of migrants’ and women’s groups. However, with the end of the Zapatero government and the worsening of the economic crisis, domestic workers’ rights have faded away from the institutional agenda and the C189 has not been ratified so far. One of the lacking elements – and that is one of the requirements of the C189 – is the possibility of a collective labour agreement which cannot be done as long as there is no employers’ organization.

These days, we can still identify an ongoing political dynamism on the issue of domestic work, with many migrants’ and women’s groups carrying on campaigns for ratification of C189 in several Spanish cities, especially in Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona and Granada (e.g. Sedoac, Sindihogar, Territorio Domestico, ATH-ELE, Nosotras, ATH Granada). These and other groups of domestic workers have gathered around platform organizations such as the Grupo Turin and the Plataforma Estatal de Asociaciones de Trabajadoras del Hogar. At the level of traditional organizations, it is important to mention the involvement of other important actors in the field, namely the Catholic Church, the Red Cross and of the Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras. Also the UN-Instraw (International Research and Training) office in Madrid has played a relevant role in preparing the ground for such debate to emerge into the public sphere.

Country-expert: Silvina Monteros Obelar

Local workshop:  16 December 2017