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  • More Women Who Lead The International Labor Movement
    Updated On: Jul 15, 2016

    By C. Marie Ainsborough, Radio Labour

    With about 70 million women in labor unions around the world, C. Marie Ainsborough of Canada’s Radio Labour released a Special International Women’s Day Report featuring many of the women leaders of the international labour movement. They touched on many topics, including the right to strike:

    [C. Marie Ainsborough]: Ged Kearney, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the ACTU:

    [Ged Kearney]: “Today, workers across the world are demanding that global corporations take their hands off our right to strike. The right for workers to strike can be all that stands between a decent working life, and one of poverty, injury, exploitation and in the worst cases, slavery. In Australia, workers taking action together have delivered safer workplaces, fair minimum wages, reasonable hours of work, equal pay, medicare, the weekend, and the list goes on.”

    Women are also at the forefront of the fight for the rights of domestic workers:

    [C. Marie Ainsborough]: One of the newest organizations working at the global level is the International Domestic Workers Federation, the IDWF. It has been fighting for the implementation of convention 189 of the UN’s International Labor Organization. The convention, if adopted by a country, would provide domestic workers with the same benefits and protections as any other worker in the country. Myrtle Witbooi is the president of the IDWF:

    [Myrtle Witbooi]: “I think the convention is becoming a strong weapon and is also becoming a negotiation weapon. At the same time, it has also become a capacity-building weapon, because what you’re doing now, when you go out there and speak to domestic workers, you don’t just speak to them about the labor laws, you’re starting to explain to them what is convention 189. Of course, you’ll find many domestic workers who don’t even know what you are talking about, but when you talk to them about labor laws and then you say that is convention 189, so I think that convention 189 has become a strong instrument. It has become a strong tool…and it’s also gives voice to our voices.”

    [C. Marie Ainsborough]: Working along with Miss Witbooi at the International Domestic Workers Federation is Elizabeth Tang. Miss Tang is the General Secretary of the IDWF:

    [Elizabeth Tang]: “Domestic workers join unions and they are paying dues because they are determined to have strong organizations. Basically their [the] most important parts of my organization, and that is also our strategic goal to achieve in this next five years, is to build the capacity of the IDWF, the International Domestic Workers Federation, so that we will be able to truly represent domestic workers at all levels.”

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