At a meeting held on Thursday at their office in Mt Pleasant Road, Arima, the National Union of Domestic Employees (NUDE) revealed that domestic workers are treated unfairly not only in TT but over the world.
General Secretary Ida LeBlanc explained the only thing that protects domestic workers is the minimum wages order.
“That is insufficient, there are over 10,000 workers who are registered and we believe there are over 20,000 workers in TT. We know the Minister of Labour is concerned about the domestic workers and NUDE but that is not all, we need protection. We are calling on the Minister of Labour to protect us,” she said. Le Blanc explained a domestic worker after being employed for a number of years can walk away with nothing.
“Imagine a worker could work 25 years and her employer never paid NIS for her and when she is ready to retire at 60 she has nothing to get. This domestic worker is going to lose out on $2000 and she will have to wait until she is 65 to get pension. That in itself is discrimination,” she said.
She also pointed out different instances where workers were treated unfairly.
“One worker took a day off and the employer fired her but she was able to take him to court because she was being paid by the company unlike persons who are just paid by their employers. We are important to society at large and how much are we getting back in return,” LeBlanc said. One domestic worker, Ria Ramnarine, 29, recalled an incident that led to her losing her job.
“My employer sent me on the roof to show someone a leak and while climbing up the ladder I fell on the ladder and I broke my arm,” she said.
A few weeks after she was fired, when asked if she will return to domestic work she said: “No, I am definitely better off home.”
The meeting was also held to celebrate Mobilising Day for Domestic workers. LeBlanc revealed the organisation was going to start a mobilising drive campaign. “We are going to go to every domestic worker in Trinidad and Tobago,” she said.
Le Blanc also called on the national community and employers to join their campaign to come up with something workable.