The domestic workers fighting for fairer conditions in pandemic-hit Spain

By Luis Ángel Reglero

Madrid, May 10 (EFE).- Many Latin American immigrants in Spain find that domestic work is one of the few employment opportunities on offer, but this insecure sector has become even more precarious during the pandemic, prompting workers to push for fairer conditions.

In Spain, this sector, much of which is off the books, remains steeped in classist stereotypes and reductive vocabulary.

Carolina Elías, president of the domestic service association SEDOAC, tells Efe that although there is no official data, an estimated 80% of those who arrive in Spain from Latin America will turn to domestic work at some point in their lives.

Domicans were some of the first economic immigrants to make their way into the domestic service sector in Spain in the 1980s and have since been followed by a multitude of nationalities, most recently Hondurans.

Before Covid-19, most migrant workers coming from South and Central America would first arrive in Spain on a tourist visa with the aim of securing a job and sorting out legal papers at a later date.

But this route has been off the menu since international borders closed last year with the onset of the pandemic.

Elías arrived in Spain from El Salvador in 2009 and, although it was not her goal, found herself in the domestic work service. Now she fights for better working conditions on behalf of her colleagues, including access to overtime payment and unemployment benefits.

She says that during the pandemic, many workers who became pregnant would be laid off rather than given maternity leave and that live-in carers would sometimes be asked not to leave the house because of Covid-19.

Further complicating these workplace abuses is the fact that many domestic workers are reluctant to approach the police for fear of deportation.

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