The measures adopted in the country on the issue of domestic workers are embedded in a period of advancements in the legal and social status of marginalized groups, a main goal of the Rafael Correa’s administrations (2007-2017). Such social transformations had profited from the expansion of national economy (especially due to the rise in oil prices and migrants’ remittances) and the legacy of the strong political dynamism experienced by the country since the early 2000s. Indigenous, feminist and workers’ groups have animated a new Left movement that gave inspiration to the new Constitution of 2008.
Building on this rising awareness on the rights of women and vulnerable social groups, Correa has addressed the issue of domestic workers’ by ratifying C189 in 2013, and including for the first time this category of workers in existing norms on labor rights (minimum wage, paid holidays, social security, etc.). Labor inspections and awareness campaigns have been carried out, and the collaboration with ILO and international NGOs has been active in the country. Domestic workers’ organizations were also promoted (e.g. ATRH and UNTHA), and an ad hoc trade union was founded in 2016: SINUTRE-Sindicato Nacional Único de Trabajadoras Remuneradas del Hogar. At the international level, SINUTRE is part of COLATRAHO (Confederación Latinoamericana de Trabajadoras del Hogar) and the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF).
However, during the last phase of Correa governments, characterised by a general discontent from the side of social movements, new requests formulated by domestic workers were not taken up. At present, the sector does not have a specific law – which is one of the requirements of C189.
In Ecuador, domestic workers are mostly working-class women of indigenous and mestizo background that migrated to larger cities such as Quito and Guayaquil. Afro-Ecuadorians and migrants from Colombia and Peru also seek jobs in this sector. In their campaigns, Ecuadorian domestic workers put great emphasis on changing the social representation of their category, as for instance through the introduction of the new term “trabajadoras de hogar” (instead of “empleadas” or “domesticas”) in all official documents.
Country-expert: María Gabriela Alvarado Pérez
Local workshop: 22 September 2017