Regulating Migrant Domestic Work in the Netherlands: Opportunities and Pitfalls

S.K. van Walsum

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In the Netherlands, migrant domestic workers are currently campaigning on various fronts for better rights: for protection of their rights as workers; for claims to social security; for the right to reside and work in the Netherlands. Since 2006, they have received support from the Dutch trade union movement.
While home-based care and household services have, in the Netherlands, traditionally been organised along the gendered fault line between paid and unpaid labour, other fault lines that distinguish citizens from aliens, and the dominant ethnic group from ethnic minorities, have become more significant. If a collaborative campaign of undocumented migrant domestic workers and the Dutch trade union movement is to succeed, it will have to reconcile the needs and desires of an increasingly diverse group of workers.
In this article I map out diverging interests, possibilities for collaboration and political constraints that mark the current situation of domestic workers in the Netherlands, both migrant and native born. Current proposals to revise Dutch migration law may offer possibilities for a concerted campaign to improve the position of all of these workers, but they also present new challenges. Achieving the goal of decent work for all domestic workers may require thinking beyond the national horizon, towards a more equitable distribution worldwide of care, labour protection and social benefits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-165
JournalCanadian Journal of Women and the Law/Revue Femmes et Droit
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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