Domestic workers

Domestic workers still among the most exploited in South Africa

Refilwe Moloto speaks with the President of the Izwi Domestic Workers Alliance, Tshedza Maphosa, about the working conditions of domestic workers in South Africa.

Domestic workers are among the most exploited and abused workers in all sectors.

Many face the brunt of employers who overwork them, underpay them, and sometimes don’t pay them at all if they don’t complete the enormous number of tasks assigned to them on a given day. Others are victims of verbal and even physical abuse.

Izwi Domestic Workers Alliance represents over 400 domestic workers who work both independently or under the direction of companies like SweepSouth and Marvelous Maids.

Domestic worker management companies have been criticized for underpaying domestic workers and taking a large share of booking fees.

Alliance chairman Tshedza Maphosa says companies can charge around R20+ per hour of their booking fee.

It depends on the agent [and it] it also depends on the hours. Others charge you R20 per hour.

Tshedza Maphosa, President – Izwi Domestic Workers Alliance

However, SweepSouth chief operating officer Luke Kannemeyer said the company pays workers 80% to 96% of their minimum booking fee, which is for the first four hours.

He also said that workers in the trial phase – usually two to three months – receive 65% of their booking fee.

Maphosa says this claim can be difficult to track because management and employers don’t communicate the amount of money they would be paid for the day.

Unfortunately, it is not easy for [the workers in the union] to tell us that’s how they do it but when you talk to the employer, the employer says ‘okay, it’s better that you come to work directly at my place than me to pay them such amount when you are the one working. ‘

Tshedza Maphosa, President – Izwi Domestic Workers Alliance

Listen to the full interview above.

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