Für illegalisierte Migrantinnen stellt die Arbeit in Privathaushalten ein zentrales, aber prekäres Betätigungsfeld dar. Angemessene Bezahlung, geregelte Arbeitszeiten sowie Versicherungsschutz und Krankengeld werden, wenn überhaupt, individuell ausgehandelt. In Ländern wie Großbritannien oder den Niederlanden wohnen viele Frauen in Privataushalten (live-in) und sind rund um die Uhr verfügbar. Diejenigen, die außerhalb des Arbeitsplatzes (live-out) leben, müssen oft mehrere Putzstellen zeitlich koordinieren. Ein Arbeitsvertrag und die Legalisierung des Aufenthaltsstatus sind zentrale Forderungen von Selbstorganisationen migrantischer Hausarbeiterinnen wie z.B. von TRUSTED Migrants aus den Niederlanden. Sich einer Selbstorganisation anzuschließen bietet sowohl einen Ort des Austauschs als auch die Artikulation gemeinsamer politischer Ziele. Die 200 Mitglieder umfassende Gruppe TRUSTED Migrants ist im Kontext der Commission for Filipino Migrant Workes (CFMW) entstanden und beteiligt sich am niederländischen sowie europäischen RESPECT-Netzwerk von und für Haushaltsarbeiterinnen.
Im September 2007 hat Helen Schwenken in Amsterdam Marisol und Alma getroffen, die sich bei TRUSTED Migrants organisieren und mit ihnen über ihre Arbeitsbedingungen und ihre politische Arbeit gesprochen. Marisol kam vor vier Jahren mit der Hoffnung auf eine bessere Zukunft von den Philippinen nach Amsterdam. Almas Weg führte zunächst von den Philippinen nach Hongkong, dann nahmen ihre dortigen Arbeitgeber sie vor fünf Jahren mit nach Amsterdam, damit sie weiter bei ihnen arbeite.
Both of you work in private households; however, you, Marisol, work live-out, while you, Alma, worked live-in. Can you tell me about your working experiences?
Marisol: I started working as a babysitter for a family with a baby boy only one month old. At first we talked about a babysitting job, but as the boy was still a baby who always slept, I had more time to do other stuff in the house. Before, they had a cleaning lady. I never actually saw this cleaning lady, the mother just told me that she was on vacation because her husband died. Later on, maybe they just thought I could manage both, babysitting and organising the household. Until now I have been doing the same job, but it is okay, also, because he is an easy boy. I got another job with another family, only cleaning the house. This is more relaxing than babysitting with all the responsibility of looking after a human being. If you are done cleaning the house, you are off and free.
Which part of your job is the most stressful?
Marisol: When the parents are there, it is kind of conflicting and I feel more pressure because the boy is naughtier when the parents are there. But I can handle it and they are dependent on me. I tried a handful of times to leave - they offered additional salary every time I said I was going to leave.
Do you think they pay you enough?
Marisol: I think it is not enough because I do all the cleaning –everything in the house, ironing, cleaning the house, feeding the child, giving him a bath, bringing him to bed, everything. When you only clean houses, you get higher payment than for babysitting. In general it is 12.50 Euro per hour for cleaning, if you do babysitting, it’s only 7, 8 or 9 Euros. I do both, that’s why I keep saying to the mother, you will never get another one like me. I do both.
Have you discussed the working conditions and your rights with your employer?
Marisol: No. Because, I am so attached to the boy, he is like my own nephew. I would feel creepy if I left.
Alma, what has been different in your job?
Alma: The biggest difference is that I used to live in the workplace and the problem was really the working hours. Once the children woke-up in the morning it was my responsibility to look after them until night when they went to bed. And sometimes if they were sick, they slept with me. Then it’s of course very hard to work in the morning. It was maybe sometimes also my fault, because I said, ok, I agreed to work the next day. But, of course, the employers knew the rules, they shouldn't have abused me, it’s really where the word abuse comes in. You don’t have time for yourself since you’re working the whole day. And that’s the big difference compared to, what Marisol was saying, working as a cleaning lady. When your time is finished, you can relax. But taking care of three children is really exhausting. You are doing all the washing of the clothes, ironing, cleaning the house, cooking, picking up the kids after school. You are really doing everything. The parents come home, see the children for one hour and then they sleep. Sometimes the mother came home, and the baby was already sleeping, it was all done. They had nothing to do when they came home! If the parents treat you badly it is not the children’s fault because they don’t know anything. I think that’s in the end the reason I chose to stay out of peoples’ houses. I cannot sleep in the night when the children are sick, you can hear the doors banging, children crying. That’s the big difference when you work part-time because at least you can really choose your time and you can also increase your salary because you can ask for better pay.
When you decided to move out in order to work on an hourly basis, did you reach a consensus with your employers?
Alma: It was after some discussions. I had already asked to leave when they had the third baby because my back was painful at the time. I asked them to get a cleaning-lady at least once a week. But if you have three children in the house, you can imagine the mess everyday that you have to tidy up, think of cooking and picking them up after school, it was very hard. But when I left, I knew it was very hard for them, especially in the first month, because I had stayed with them for six years and it was really a luxury for them because I did everything. After that I became bolder to speak about what is in my heart. I have done my best to serve them for years, but it seems that they overlooked my hard work. I am always the one who negotiates my salary. I said, if you really like me and appreciate my work, you should increase my salary automatically, not make me beg. That’s why I have come to the point where I am sad because they said that they were always happy, that I was part of the family - but I always had a hard time negotiating my salary.
Did you succeed in negotiating?
Alma: Well, yes, I succeeded. Because I always believed that they could never find someone like me. Putting three children into a day-care centre would have been more costly. In the end, I got what I wanted. I am still working eleven hours, three days a week, but I am happier now. I have four days for myself and I have three days with them.
Both of you active in a group of self-organised migrant domestic workers called TRUSTED Migrants. How did you become involved?
Alma: I got to know about it in the church, through our preacher. That's also the reason why Africans are among us, because we belong to one church. But I waited for one more year when we involved ourselves in the Forum Theatre project “Acting Together” of the Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers and the Dutch RESPECT working group for migrant domestic workers. There I met Fe Jusay from the Women’s Program of the CFMW. She then came to our church to speak publicly and our pastor supported it. And I said to myself, okay, I can be involved in this as well. When we elected officers at TRUSTED Migrants, I was elected as a chair-person, and Marisol as the general secretary. In June 2006 we succeeded to become members of the biggest Dutch public sector trade union ABVAKABO, we also became members of FNV, the Dutch Federation of Trade Unions. In August 2006 we actively decided that we still have to depend on our own self-organisation, because we want to defend ourselves as self-organised migrants. There are at least 200 members now in TRUSTED Migrants.
Most of you are women, but you also have male members, where do they work?
Marisol: With the Filipinos it is also cleaning, men and women. The Africans are also doing cleaning, but in offices
What work does ‘TRUSTED Migrants’ do?
Marisol: We are continuing the campaign that the Commission of Filipino Migrant Workers started. Our main goal is to have our work recognized as proper and attain work permits, so we can at least visit our countries and come back and work again. We are lobbying through CFMW for this campaign because most of our TRUSTED members are undocumented. Our main way within TRUSTED is actually the Forum Theatre, through it we can show what's happening with us undocumented migrants.
You have a very full working day, when do you meet as TRUSTED Migrants?
Alma: We always find time to have a meeting because we are serious about it. It is our hope that one day we reach the goal that we are campaigning for. Usually, if not on Saturday, then we meet on Friday evenings after work.
Is it true that in order to deal with the problem of not having bank accounts, that you have also founded a cooperative?
Alma: Our cooperative is called “Koop Natin”. The idea came also out from CFMW and the collaboration with RESPECT Netherlands. It’s a good thing. Sometimes our families back home need a bigger amount of money, but we cannot provide this all at once. So we can borrow it from the cooperative, when we have shares in the cooperative. We now have 29 members.
If you were a politician, what kind of policy would you introduce?
Marisol: I would implement a regularisation campaign. It would also be helpful for Dutch society, as we would pay taxes, and then we could see our families back home. Whatever they are going to implement, whatever regulation they are going to make, I hope we will also benefit from it, because we are here.
Einleitung und Bearbeitung des Interviews: Caren Kunze.
Das Netzwerk "TRUSTED Migrants" mit Sitz in den Niederlanden ist aus der "Commission for Filipino Migrant Workes" (CFMW) entstanden. Es beteiligt sich am europaweit tätigen RESPECT-Netzwerk von und für Haushaltsarbeiterinnen.