Walter Roban *File photo
Walter Roban *File photo

Statement by Shadow Home Affair's Minister Walter Roban

 

A recent advertisement for a live-in housekeeper has once again brought the issue of abuse of domestic workers to light and the PLP is calling for urgent action.

This ad seeks one person do "all aspects of general and heavy cleaning, ironing, windows, and polishing brass and silver for three separate households." Further the worker will have to work at more than one house daily, supervise children, take care of pets and be prepared to work evenings and weekend.

It appears that this ad is designed to discourage any local applicant.  It also appears that anyone hired in this position could likely face sustained abuse. This is tantamount to slavery and must be stopped.  We call on the OBA government to cease issuing work permits for work in multiple households immediately.

Further, against a backdrop of numerous reports we have received of abusive working conditions for domestic employees and their fear of speaking out against their employer, we propose:

1.      Immigration Officials to commence random and unannounced spot checks on domestic workers and their employers to assess working and living conditions.

2.      Reviews of employee contracts to ensure the employer is acting fully within the law.

3.      A determination that employees are in possession and control of their own passport.

4.      The creation and publication of a minimum set of working conditions, including pay, for all domestic workers, which employers are required to adhere to.

The bigger issue at hand is that no government should allow these sorts of applications to be even submitted. It is seemingly designed to dissuade Bermudians from applying and apparently designed to encourage only non Bermudians to apply.

The OBA is a government that always speaks of how Bermudians should not mistreat guest workers. The OBA should now publicly demonstrate to these Bermudian applicants that they will not allow these sort of abusive work conditions on the guest workers that may get these types of jobs.