House Chair, let me state upfront that we, as the DA, agree with the approval of the convention. It is commendable that, as a country, we are making a concerted effort to improve the quality of the lives of the domestic workers who, for far too long, have been regarded as somewhat lesser workers. In this regard, domestic workers will now enjoy most of the rights afforded to other workers, including legislative protection, such as regulated working hours, minimum wages, overtime payment, daily and weekly rest periods, social security and maternity leave.
However, it's a pity that the Minister has just walked out; a major gap in the provision of better working conditions for domestic workers is that they are not covered under the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, Coida. We do take note that the Compensation Fund has committed itself to investigating their inclusion in Coida and the Unemployment Insurance Fund, UIF. They are also looking at the possibility of a provident fund for domestic workers. We call on the Department of Labour to facilitate these processes as we look forward to the outcomes of the investigations into Coida and the UIF. As a supporter of the convention, South Africa would not want to be found wanting when the ILO comes in to look at what we are doing in this sector.
However, there is something to which I want to draw the attention of members here. While government is doing its part to normalise the employment environment of domestic workers, some of us - and that includes all of us in this country, whom I call mini-employers since we only employ one or two people at our homes - are failing to keep our side of the bargain. We sometimes treat our domestic workers badly, whereas we are expected to lead by example and treat those people as we would like to be treated.
The reason I am making this simple point is that a colleague was telling me on Monday that he has met a young woman who works for one of our colleagues. They greeted nicely ...
... ka Setswana. O rile: "Le kae mme?" Ene a araba ka gore o tsogile a bo a botsa maphelo. E rile fa a botsa gore o tsholegile jang, a re: "Ke tsholegile sentle ka dijo le dilo tsotlhe di le gona. Ke robala ka fa ntlong e e seng ya badiri, mme fa kgwedi e fela, ga ke duelwe." (Translation of Setswana paragraph follows.)
[... in Setswana. He said: "How are you, ma'am?" She said she's well and greeted further. When asked about her employer's treatment of her, she said: "Everything is fine regarding food and other stuff. I don't sleep in the maid's house, but on month end I don't get paid."]
How can that be? Thank you very much. [Applause.]