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Theoretical Inquiries in Law

Editor-in-Chief: Klement, Alon

2 Issues per year


SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.319
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.698

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1565-3404
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Volume 17, Issue 1 (Feb 2016)

Issues

Organizing in the Shadows: Domestic Workers in the Netherlands

Margriet Kraamwinkel
Published Online: 2016-02-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/til-2016-0013

In 2009, a small group of domestic workers joined FNV Bondgenoten, the largest Dutch trade union in the private sector and affiliated with the Dutch trade union confederation FNV. The group that joined consisted mainly of women immigrant workers, many of whom did not have a residence permit. FNV’s policy is that we organize workers and do not ask for passports. Still, a group like this brought to light several problems for FNV, both practical and fundamental. The Article identifies three types of problems. The first set of problems concerns the invisibility of domestic workers. Domestic workers work in private houses and are leery of talking to strangers if they don’t have residence permits. This demanded new organizing tactics from the sector, like asking women to bring a friend to a meeting and joining churches. A cash payment of membership fees system was devised, its administration done by handwriting. At the same time, the public debate on immigration toughened; immigrants without residence permits (“illegal aliens”) in particular were depicted as somewhere between a profiteer and the devil. This debate also took place within FNV. The second set of problems is defined by the traditional views in Dutch society on domestic work. The group chose to become union members, since they wanted to better their position in the labor market. Dutch law on domestic work excludes them from full protection of labor and social security law. The inclusion of domestic work in labor and social security law is contrary to cultural and historical traditions and views and therefore contentious. The third set of problems is caused by the connectedness of labor and social security law and immigration law. Domestic workers in the Netherlands work in the shadows in two ways: by not having a residence permit, and by not being protected by labor and social security law. The result of our campaign is that a group of publicly financed care workers will be better protected, but the group of domestic workers that fought for ILO Convention 189 will still be excluded from our labor and social security law and not be able to qualify for a residence permit.

About the article

Published Online: 2016-02-14

Published in Print: 2016-02-01


Citation Information: Theoretical Inquiries in Law, ISSN (Online) 1565-3404, ISSN (Print) 1565-1509, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/til-2016-0013.

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