Jamaica Observer / MINISTER of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange says the nation has undergone a positive change in attitude towards domestic workers. Grange was addressing an awards function put on by the Jamaica Household Workers’ Union, in partnership with the Bureau of Gender Affairs, to mark International Domestic Workers’ Day last Saturday.

“In today’s Jamaica, no longer do people look down their noses on the domestic worker. In the majority [of], if not all, cases the domestic worker is shown the respect he or she deserves.

“Even if a few people still stubbornly cling to the notion that domestic work is less-than-worthy endeavour, we have come a long way from what used to be. The lot of the domestic worker in Jamaica and in many other countries of the world has improved significantly and their work regarded as meaningful as any other profession.”

She said that an International Domestic Workers’ Day, as part of the global calendar of celebrations, puts the spotlight on a group of people who for many years were literally downtrodden.

“Their situation around the world is by no means perfect now, but in many countries they have come a far way, Jamaica included.

“Happily, very happily, gone are the days when the treatment of domestic workers in many instances bordered on slave labour and when we spoke derogatively describing the domestic worker as the ‘girl’ or the ‘yard boy’.”

Added Grange: “Many employers pay their domestic workers very well and the word out there is that, in some instances, the remuneration is on par with that of office workers.

“The Government of Jamaica celebrates with you the commemoration of International Domestic Workers’ Day and continues its support for your efforts and commends the progress that you have made.”

Minister Grange said it was pleasing that the Jamaica Household Workers’ Union was recognising and rewarding domestic workers with the Invisible Giant Award for those devoting 15 years of service to one employer. She called for it to be an annual award.

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