Domestic Workers Advocacy Forum (DWAF) was founded by Professor Thidziambi Tshivhase-Phendla and Advocate Lumka Phendla in August 2013 as a platform to assist domestic workers around Tshwane Municipality. This in a non-partisan non-profit organisation was registered on 10 July 2014 with registration number: 139-218 NPO.
DWAF’s central focus is to respond to the Freedom Charter which states that “our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities” and that “ the state shall recognise the right and duty of all to work…”. While South Africa recognized United Nations Convention C189 to ensure the labour protection of domestic workers in 2011, however, more still needs to be done. This legislation works toward ensuring that domestic workers will be acknowledged as workers who contribute to the economy and that they should be given due recognition as workers. Although South Africa has come a long way to provide Sectoral Determination 7 on Domestic Workers which sets minimum wages, working hours, number of leave days and termination rules, nevertheless, a large number of domestic workers employers, still, do not comply with this determination. Sadly, a larger number of domestic workers are still not informed about this determination.
DWAF is the first and only advocacy and training forum in Tshwane, Gauteng which is serious about domestic workers’ challenges beyond salary and working conditions. DWAF take other strategic vantage points serious, such as education and skill development and training, research, legal and counselling support, and fundraising. The forum is concerned with raising awareness of domestic workers’ right to respect and dignity as women and as workers (maternity protection); right to equal treatment at work; fundamental labour rights; decent working conditions; right to collective bargaining and representation; social security and health insurance; right to health and safe workplace. Without formal unions to represent them, abuse and exploitation in the workplace in terms of work hours, wages and rest periods are considerably higher than workers in other formal sectors.
As an advocacy and training forum, DWAF will provide clients with skill training programs that provide access to further education, career development and life skills while providing legal and counselling services. Our goal is to use a collaborative approach to empower domestic workers, unemployed women and youth through these programs. This strategy is the keystone to develop our clients’ self-sufficiency while reducing unemployment.
Our working group has proposed a strategy for approaching this challenge. Our preliminary plans include a series of public programs and development of a portfolio of information resources and educational materials. With these tools we will endeavour to educate and raise awareness of domestic workers, unemployed women, youth, employers and members of the community about the inner workings of Basic Conditions of Employment Act and encourage all citizens to respect domestic work as decent work.
As we move forward we require the assistance of knowledgeable parties such as Further Education and Training Colleges (FET) and Colleges of Law. First, FET’s will support with the development and/or implementation of our qualification mix and outreach programs. Institutions with deep expertise on vocational training are essential partners in our strife to achieve our vision and mission. With FET’s contribution, we hope to produce educational materials and an outreach strategy that is comprehensive and representative of the important issues facing our clients. Second, strategic partnership with Faculties of Law, in particular, Colleges or Schools which have community engagement projects that focus on nation building and social cohesion to access justice will benefit our clients while providing an environment where law students and academics volunteer to provide legal aid as part of their outreach and community engagement education. With the help of Law faculties, we hope to provide legal aid and counselling essential to support our clients to represent them at CCMA and for other minor convictions. In addition, academics will have an opportunity to conduct collaborative engaged community research as they endeavour to attain their visionary goals.
Our preamble is that, as domestic workers
- We are people first and worker next.
- We are important workers; just as important as any worker in South Africa.
- Just because we work in other people’s households as individuals and separate from each other does not mean that any of us are less important.
- We want the chance to be full citizens in the communities we serve.
As an advocacy and training forum, DWAF will provide clients with skill training programs that provide access to further education, career development and life skills while providing legal and counselling services. Our goal is to use a collaborative approach to empower domestic workers, unemployed women and youth through these programs. This strategy is the keystone to develop our clients’ self-sufficiency while reducing poverty and unemployment