Domestic workers still receive zero respect

2018-05-31 09:05

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Forget about the employers’ skin colour. This has nothing to do with race in South Africa or in any other country. This has everything to do with the respect and gratitude shown by the household employers towards those helping them to do that which they are unable to carry out. 

For so many years, most of us believed that domestic workers were best suitable to work for white people than their fellow Africans. Maybe it was a misguided perception that only white people could afford to pay for domestic workers. Since 1994, there has been a rapid growth in the middle class of South Africa. This meant that black people too could afford to hire domestic workers. However, many domestic workers are still suffering from the cruelty of their employers (black or white, makes no difference) whereby they are given harsh responsibilities. All of these being done in the name of, “we are paying them”.

Since domestic workers possess little or no qualification, they receive zero respect from some of their employers. Besides being paid so little, some of them are said to have been assaulted by those we once had high respect for such as public figures. Oh how I wish justice will prevail but the justice system seems to be a bit unfair. In different households, the employer’s children rebel to learn some of the responsibilities because there is someone to do it on their behalf. The golden rule which says, “treat others as you wish to be treated” seems not to apply even in some homes claiming to be grounded by Christian values.

Despite all the hurdles that domestic workers encounter, they are still determined to wake up and face their demons in their working environment. I guess no one wants to go to bed on an empty stomach or see their kids suffer into greater depths of poverty. Many of them are breadwinners in their families and not even a minimum wage can help them cover their expenses. Some of the domestic workers also risk of losing their jobs if something goes missing which can result to unfair dismissal. They are not even aware of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) regulated by the Department of Labour which helps in creating a conducive working environment.

My plea to the South African government is for them to help uplift the livelihoods of all domestic workers in urban and rural areas. The Department of Labour should also consider starting-up a door to door campaign to educate these workers about Unemployment Insurance Fund and to enforce all employers to register them. As for the ruling party, the Thuma Mina campaign should show its true essence to the ordinary citizens of South Africa and should not be implemented just to lure our votes.

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