For regular updates on our work please read our blog
Peers Oral Question: Foreign Domestic Workers 4 July 2013
Commons debate on the migrant domestic workers convention on 29th June 2011
Lords debate on migrant domestic workers in the UK 09 June 2011
The debate in the House of Lords on the ILO domestic worker convention and the importance of protections for migrant domestic workers in the UK provided by the domestic worker visa. Click here.
New anti-slavery laws are being introduced
On 6 April 2010 a new offence of holding someone in forced labour, slavery or servitude comes into force. This will make it easier for police and the crown prosecution service to prosecute people who traffic migrant domestic workers to the UK. It will also mean that even where a worker has not been trafficked, if they are being held in a situation of forced labour, their employers can be held criminally liable. To find out more you can read the text of the new Ministry of Justice leaflet, which will be available on the Direct Gov website soon, the official Ministry of Justice circular, or the Liberty and Anti-Slavery briefing that initially proposed the new offence.
A migrant domestic worker has had her personal testimony published
The website 50:50 Open democracy has published the story of a migrant domestic worker. Click here to read "Cry of a migrant". On the same website is "Life on a knife edge" a brief article by Kalayaan about the difficulties faced by migrant domestic workers in the UK, even those who have relatively good jobs (17 March 2010).
International Women's Day 2010
On Monday 8th March 2010, Kalayaan and a member of the domestic worker self-help group J4DW, will speak at the Unite the Union lobby of parliament "Speak out against human trafficking". Amongst other things the lobby is calling on the UK Government to:
Keep the overseas domestic workers visa in the UK, including the right to change employer and recognition as workers and extend to cover to
migrant domestic workers who accompany diplomats; campaign for an ILO convention on
Congratulations and Thanks to Ollie Robbins on his fundraising success for Kalayaan
Well done to Ollie Robbins who has cycled to Italy and raised £1,450 for Kalayaan in the meantime!
Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill
Migrant domestic workers who work for diplomats keep exisiting rights with the Points Based System for immigration
Despite the inclusion of migrant domestic workers (mdws) employed by diplomats (diplomatic mdws) in Tier 5 of the Points Based System, a move opposed by Kalayaan and allies, these workers will maintain their exisitng rights within Tier 5. This means they can change employer within the diplomatic mission with which they entered the UK, apply to renew their visa in the UK if in eligible employment and apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain once eligible.
In addition, diplomatic mdws who enter the UK before the 26th May 2010 will be granted a one off visa for up to five years.
Further details can be found on the Home Office website
Kalayaan remains concerned that diplomatic mdws are not entitled to change employers outside the diplomatic mission with which they entered the UK. In cases where the worker is abused or exploited it is unrealistic to expect them to leave and find employment within the same mission. This leaves diplomatic mdws especially vulnerable to abuse.
Migrant domestic workers celebrate a campaign win!
Kalayaan welcomes the government's commitments announced in the context of the Response to the Consultation on Visitors on the 25th June 2008 to minimise the risk of abuse or exploitation of migrant domestic workers. The government has committed to maintaining the existing rights and protections for migrant domestic workers, which were introduced with the domestic worker visa, for at least another two years.
On the 2nd July 2008 Kalayaan co published a report together with Oxfam 'The new Bonded Labour?' which looks at the situation of migrant domestic workers in the UK using data collected by Kalayaan from migrant domestic workers in the UK during 1.5 years. The report makes important recommendations to combat abuse and improve the situation of migrant domestic workers in the UK.
Why is this a success?
In 2006 the UK government announced the introduction of a ‘Points Based System’ for immigration to the UK. As part of these new regulations the Government proposed to remove many of the vital protections for migrant domestic workers (MDWs). These protections had been introduced by the same Labour Government in 1998, as a progressive change to the immigration rules, in recognition of MDWs vulnerability to abuse. Kalayaan was deeply concerned by the new proposals, announced in March 2006 following the publication of the government's White Paper 'Making Migration Work for Britain', which included removing the right of domestic workers to change employers while in the UK. Kalayaan outlined these concerns in position paper 'Migration must work for workers too' and for the past two years has been campaigning together with migrant domestic workers, their unions and other allies to ensure that the protections remain in place. We are delighted that the government has recognised the genuine concerns of MDWs and has committed to their continued protection.
Together with Oxfam, Kalayaan has produced a research document ‘The New Bonded Labour?’ which looks at why migrant domestic workers must be protected by basic rights including the right to change employer and protection under UK employment law. The report highlights the vulnerabilities particular to migrant domestic workers in the UK. You can also download a briefing paper.
You can see news coverage around the launch of the report which took place on the 2nd July 2008 on the BBC website
Home Affairs Committee conclude that Migrant Domestic Worker visa provides vital protection from trafficking!
Kalayaan welcomes the recommendations made by the Home Affairs Committee in their recent report 'The Trade in Human Beings: Human Trafficking in the UK' including that the domestic worker visa should be maintained to ensure domestic workers have an escape route from trafficking and forced labour. They state that:
'To retain the existing Migrant Domestic Workers visa and the protection it offers to workers is the single most important issue in preventing the forced labour and trafficking of such workers'.
Lords debate on Human Trafficking 28th June 2007
Kalayaan had the opportunity to raise some of the issues affecting MDWs and speak of the concerns raised by the government’s proposals at the opening of the conference on Friday 30th June in Eastbourne.
Kalayaan’s work has been recognised by the Centre for Social Justice whose award programme identifies and celebrates the work of innovative, grassroots organisations that are effectively fighting poverty.
Kalayaan was one of five organisations to receive an award and a £7,000 share of the £25,000 prize which was divided between the winning groups. Our award was presented on the 28th June 2006 by Iain Duncan Smith during an award ceremony at Westminster Central Hall.
For more information on the Awards and the Centre for Social Justice click here.