Domestic workers are to re-enact the historic suffragette struggle for equality, to highlight ‘modern-day slavery’ in Britain’s workplaces.
Workers will pose as suffragettes in period costumes outside parliament on Sunday – International Women’s Day – to seek respect and recognition for the exploitation of foreign workers in the UK labour-force.
The demonstration comes after a recent victory in the House of Lords, where peers voted for an amendment to the ‘Modern Slavery bill’.
The amended Bill will go before the House of Commons next week, for a third and final reading. If passed, it would allow for the retention of the domestic worker visa, awarding them the legal right to change employers once in the UK.
Since 2012, foreign workers have been tied to a single employer upon entering the UK. Around 15,000 foreign workers in the UK are currently unable to renew their visas or change employer if things go wrong.
Andrew Boff, a Conservative member of the London Assembly, heavily criticised the Government in 2014. In a report he said: “I don’t think it [the Government] intends to be, but it is actually licensing modern-day slavery.”
Diana Holland Unite assistant general secretary said:
“Migrant domestic workers’ struggle for justice links to all women’s struggles throughout our history.
“Just as suffragettes fought for the right to vote, migrant domestic workers are now struggling for the right to be free.
“Following the historic House of Lords amendment now is the time for us to call on MPs to support the change and not to undermine this achievement – which breaks the tie to their employer and recognises them as a worker in their own right ending modern-day slavery.”
Marissa Begonia, from Justice 4 Domestic Workers, added:
“Domestic workers, struggling for justice, decent pay and conditions, and equality are continuing the fight that the suffragettes made so eloquently 100 years ago.
“Their campaign still has real relevance today.”