The fairy tale is over






 We as the charwomen, cleaners, nursemaids and all the daily unregistered domestic servants are all WORKERS… We DO demand our rights!  

They call us "charwomen". Charwomen, cleaning worker or domestic workers, we are all workers all in all. We are not the women who occasionally and randomly go to work to "contribute" to the family budget, as the mass-media often calls.   We are in millions and the number steadily increases day by day. Just the same as the "regular" workers, we do work and bring home the bread. However, we are not considered as workers anyway.

The labour act does not protect the rights of us. Charwomen, nursemaids or domestic nursing workers… All we are hired and employed without any social rights. The law no 4857 and the article no 4 of the labour act, specifically indicates that the workers who work in the "home services" are EXCLUDED from the law.

In the law no 5510 of Social Insurance and General Health Coverage under the heading of "The Ones Regarded as uncovered" in the subparagraph 6/C  (alter: 17.4.2008 – article 5754/4) it indicates that except for the ones who work permanently as wageworkers the home-based workers are excluded from the act. 

It is obvious that we are described with the language of "included" vs. "excluded". This law act is capable of solving neither our or the other domestic house-worker women's problems. The situation is all proved by the impossibility of finding any charwomen working under social insurance. The Ministry of Labour explicitly turns a blind eye to the situation. The state itself pretends as if there were no women working as charwomen. 

Just the same as the housework of the housewives remains invisible and their labour rights are ignored, our labour and rights as charwomen and house workers are unseen and we are left without our rights.

We demand from the state our very own rights as a result of being labourers! Social insurance and social security!  



We Suffer From Occupational Illnesses; Therefore What We Do Is a Job.

As we work, most of us suffer from occupational illnesses such as spinal disc herniation, spinal cord compression, cervical disc hernia, meniscus, asthma, dermatologic disorders. However, we do not have any health insurance at all. Moreover, there are no sanctions at our workplaces to take the necessary measures for job safety. We are all left to the mercy of the employers we work for.  

The number of women who are killed or severely injured by falling from the window while they are cleaning is not "just a few" at all. There are friends of us who are run over by cars while they are waiting at the bus stop to get back home from the houses they clean. They want us to call it as our "destiny". At best, they pity our poverty. However, we are well aware that it is NOT our "destiny" at all. It is clearly an occupational accident.


There is the Job, but no Description!..

As we have no legal rights as workers, it is all at the employer's mercy how to treat us. In each single house there is a different kind of employer-labour relationship. There is no defined occupational standard for us, no defined working conditions or no standards in the amount of work to be done.


Psychological, Sexual, Physical Violence… It's just a part of our work…

Charwomen and all the women working in the domestic service are under the threat of discrimination, mobbing and physical and sexual violence.

Our being unregistered and without any social cover, the work itself being and non-standard and the relationship between the employer and the worker being without any rules and regulations drives everything against us.

When the difficulties of seeking our own rights are combined with the "ordinary" realities of our lives such as sexism, being unregistered immigrant and a domestic worker at the same time, social and familial pressure, most of us feel urged to keep our mouths shut and nobody calls the responsible to account for the harassment, rape and the attacks alike they have committed. 


Immigrant Domestic Workers Suffer More

Thousands of unregistered immigrants work under the conditions of slavery. Immigrant domestic workers have no rights at all. This situation is exploited by the employers and they confiscate their passports and hold a certain amount of their wages until they leave the work. Thus, as the immigrant workers have no other place to go; they feel urged to put up with long working hours and heavy work load without any objection.

Immigrant domestic workers are constantly face to face with sexual attacks in the houses they work, and with bribery demands and pressure of the police in the street. As it is dangerous for them to walk in the streets, they cannot use their weekly holidays. There are many immigrant women domestic workers who cannot return back to their homeland because of their visa problems and have a baby in Turkey and cannot register them in the schools as they are unregistered.

Authorities forbid the right to work for the illegal immigrant workers on the one hand, and on the other hand they condone and stimulate their working. By this way it becomes possible to exploit their labour in a more "efficient" way. The immigrant domestic workers who are forced to stay in an illegal position are forced to work for very low wages and under very hard working conditions. This situation affects the working conditions and wages of all the domestic workers and charwomen in a very negative way.

This system puts the illegal immigrant workers and the domestic workers and charwomen who are Turkish citizens against each other. We do not see the immigrant workers as the reason for the decrease in our wages or for our working conditions getting worse.  We will never exclude immigrant domestic workers and will never discriminate. We will be in solidarity with them as they work and try to make a living just as we do.

We very well know that not giving a work permit for the immigrant workers will not be able to dissuade them from working; on the contrary it encourages the employers to exploit their labour more.

We will support their freedom of free movement, settlement and working rights. We will be in solidarity with them when they have problems.

Immigrant workers are not responsible for the problems we encounter. It is the governments who are responsible by not producing any solutions to domestic workers either immigrant or not.


Employment Agencies are performing slavery trade under the name of Consulting Offices

Some of the domestic workers are sent to work in the houses by the "Consulting Offices" which act as employment offices in fact. All the negative consequences of flexible working is implemented by the use of these firms and thus the exploitation over women's labour increases. Employment agencies, consulting offices or such agencies make money on these immigrant women workers and force them to do very heavy work for a very low wages. Moreover, it is not realistic to claim that domestic workers can be chained by means of these agencies or offices. These firms do not record any information in any circumstances; rather they implement a kind of slavery trade.


We Are Against House Work to Be Seen as Women's Work

House work is seen as solely women's work and thus all the work load in the houses are burdened on women's shoulders.

Patriarchal capitalist system trivializes housework, governments greaten unemployment and diminish the social state applications and thus put the entire burden on women's shoulders.

However, we well know that if our daily labour in the houses is ignored, it is impossible for us to be seen as domestic workers performing a defined job. Thus, in the cases when we perform qualified work the same as men do, our labour is seen as not as valuable and we are paid less. All these are not independent from each other.  

House work is not only the women's job. House work is necessary to reproduce life and every individual should contribute in this. All the house work possible should be socialized and the other house work should be equally shared among the family members.

The state should develop policies to provide gender equality and socialize the housework.

Housewives have no social rights at all. Thus, they remain dependent on their husbands or fathers in their entire lives. We should be given our earned income until the notion of "housewifery" diminishes. 

For instance, Venezuela government considers housewives as workers. According to the Venezuela constitution item 88, "the state recognizes the domestic labour as an economic act producing value and contributing to social welfare and wealth". By this way in Venezuela housewives have their social and economic rights under state security. This is what has to be done. 

We, too, demand that the labour of the housewives become visible. In the constitution, there must be an item that indicates women's domestic labour producing value. Housewives should have their social and economic rights.

We well know that as long as the housework is seen as invaluable we will not be able to have our rights as domestic workers as wage owners.

House Means Work… House Is a Workplace

We as charwomen and domestic workers clean the dirt of the others outside our houses. Moreover, as all women when we get back to our houses we go on working in our own houses, as well. We are suppressed! We are exploited two times; in double!..

We believe that if our work has certain standards with social security, if we become unionized and work with insurance, the general image of the household work will change and the sexist side of housework will be rasped. 

One of the most important reasons why house work is seen as women's work is that because housework is devoid of any social and economic rights, just as slavery. If we work with our rights, we can have respect both within the family and the society. We would have value at home and thus would be stronger to fight against patriarchy.     

As long as our work is seen as "women's work", in low status, with irregular wages and without any social and economic rights, we as domestic women workers and charwomen will be obliged to work under more exploiting conditions.


"Come on!... What Right Can Just a Charwoman Have?"

"Come on!.. What Right Can Just a Charwoman Have?" This is what most of our colleagues say.  We do not have even a single idea about our rights. We not only stay silent against being forced to work for long hours, but we also do not object using chemicals that threat our health. We also keep silent against the physical, psychological and sexual violence we encounter in the workplace.

When our rights are extorted, when we are forced to work for long hours or subjected to insult, we leave the workplace even without getting our wages.

We inherit many occupational illnesses from each house we work. Work accidents are totally ignored. We lose our confidence, health and even our lives and we still stay silent.

To seek our rights it is urgent that we unite and be in solidarity. We have to get organized within unions as all the other workers do to seek their rights. We are week singly, however, when we get organized in unions we can be strong. We should get united in a union to get the control of our lives and to reveal our strength. Let's protect each other and ourselves. Let's create our solidarity unity and union together.


All Talk, No Action…

We Are Ignored by the Society, Government and the Employers!

Nobody sees us, nobody sees our labour. Thus whatever voice comes out of our throat, it comes from the heavens. We even feel embarrassed to tell our social surrounding what work we are doing. Certainly, we do have a share in this invisibility magic.

In the society, we are seen as poor women who sometimes go to work to "contribute" to the family budget.

Most of the time, our employers are women. They sometimes have a "sister" image and sometimes they behave as cruel bosses. In both cases though, we work without any rights, insurance and security.

As a requirement of Women's Solidarity, it is urgent that one should give charwomen and the domestic workers a back in their struggle to be introduced legislation and to claim their rights.


Municipalities! Do not Come Visit Us only in the Election Times!

We have a few words to tell the municipalities

Those municipalities who visit us with roses and flowers every time they need our votes… They in fact have a totally blind eye on us as charwomen or domestic workers.

The cities we live in are divided into the "private-security guarded housing estates" and the poor neighbourhoods where we live in. When you look at the bus stops in front of the luxury houses with bright lights, parks and swimming pools, you would see the crystal clear discrimination; those bus stops are for the charwomen and the domestic workers to use. 

The bus stop in front of the Tepe Ören Villas is consisted of solely a small sign board hung up on a tiny pillar. While three charwomen were waiting at this bus stop to go back to their homes, they were hit by a car speeding on the Formula 1 road and all three were killed.  Maybe, if the bus stop were built at a place where cars and busses could easily distinguish from a distance, taking human security into consideration, those women might have not died. This is an ironic side of being "invisible" as women and as domestic workers... Neither the bus stop is visible nor the women waiting there. These women were already "invisible" or "non-existent" for the speeding up car of the patriarchal system. They are already "non-existent" for the system… 

A similar situation exists for bus stops in front of the residence towers of Basaksehir /Ispartakule. There are two bus stops on the opposite sides of the road. The bus stop on the one side which the rich use to go downtown is well equipped, while the bus stop on the same road on the opposite side, the one which domestic worker women use to go back to their homes is only a tiny signboard hang-up on a tiny pillar. They begrudge charwomen a regular sheltering bus stop.

Going to work and coming back home is a kind of torture for us as domestic workers. While luxury houses are rising around us and the number of luxury jeeps increasing on the roads day by day, we have to commute on extremely crowded busses in inhumane conditions. It is a kind of torture that we live on the busses every day until we arrive at home or at work.  The rich are provided with alternative public transportation services to go to the city centres or shopping centres. However, they do not even think of finding a solution to our transportation torture which we experience every single day. We demand municipalities to provide solutions for this misery.

We say no to the allocation of the resources to enrich the rich much more. We as domestic workers demand the right to have a voice in the allocation of the municipality resources. We do not want anyone to talk on behalf of us; rather we want to have our own voice. We want to be represented in the municipalities and local governments and to take part in the decision-making mechanisms. We do not want the municipalities to become centres for trade and unearned income. 

We demand a city where we can live humanly.


·         We demand to live humanly and work in humanly conditions.

·         We are workers. We want to be covered by the labour acts.

·         All our social rights including social insurance and right to pension should be recompensed.

·         The states should suspense our insurance charges and supply our insurance from the national budget.

·         We demand that our labour be seen and our working conditions be improved.

·         We demand labour safety and life safety

·         We demand job security

·         We work both at home and outside. Thus, we demand early retirement

·         We demand free health service

·         We demand free education

·         We demand women's shelters under the supervision of women's organizations.


·         We demand that our unpaid labour at home be socialized. We demand free day nurseries, nursing and rehabilitation centres for old people, children's play rooms, youth centres and social spaces.

·         We demand that bus stops be fully constructed and streets should be fully illuminated.

·         The frequency of bus services should be increased. We demand bus services for the domestic workers between the luxury residences and the neighbourhoods we live.

·         We demand healthy and earthquake-resistant secure accommodation.


·         We demand that a legislative item recognising household labour producing value be included in the constitution.

·         In this frame housewives should have social security.

·         Housewives should be put on salary.





·         We will construct our own union with our own hands to stop the exploitation of our labour.

·         We are workers. We will fight until the charwomen and domestic workers are covered by the labour act.

·         We will fight for our labour both at home and outside home to become visible.

·         We will work for equipping domestic labour with vocational standards and job descriptions.

·         We will fight against the gendered division of labour.

·         We will act together to improve our working conditions, to prevent occupational accidents and occupational illnesses, to get rid of the grunt work in the work place and to solve many of our problems.

·         We will share our experiences.

·         We will collaborate to improve the living standards of the domestic workers and charwomen

·         We will fight against seeing household work as women's work and will struggle for men and the state to shoulder their own responsibilities in this manner.

·         For this purpose, we will strengthen and scale up the women's solidarity

·         So far, we have endured the difficulties. Now, it is time to change the situation.

·         In order to change the situation, we will improve our unity and organize in our own union.

İMECE Women's Union