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The invisible domestic helpers in Cyprus

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The invisible domestic helpers in Cyprus

We were upset and embarrassed by a very recent post on the BBC website about the treatment of foreign domestic helpers in Cyprus, but again we stayed in the press. That we were resilient as a country and not why these things are happening in our country. The report, written on the occasion of the case of the serial killings of a Greek Cypriot soldier as he confessed, is entitled “The killings in Cyprus reveal the mistreatment of migrant women” and talks about an exploitation system that allows tens of thousands of women to work as migrants. domestic workers under conditions that some describe as “modern slavery”. According to the BBC reporter, a representative of the Filipino organization in Cyprus states that she regularly receives complaints from her compatriots that their salaries are below 400 euros per month or that they are forced to work 12 to 14 hours a day, without interruption, while often are victims of sexual harassment. These women – from the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal – find work in Cyprus through agencies that have offices in their home countries and pay in these agencies from $ 2,000 to $ 7,000, mainly with loans, which they repay from their salaries. 400 euros they receive in Cyprus (plus accommodation and food that are the obligations of employers). The exploitation of migrant women has been confirmed in recent days by public statements (they have said it many times) by the executive director of the Movement for Equality, Support and Anti-racism (KISA), Doros Polykarpou, the president of the Cyprus Housing Association, Louis Koutroukidis, and the president of the Pancyprian Federation of Private Employment Offices, Andreas Tsagaridis. However, the most detailed of all has been said by the former Commissioner of Administration and Human Rights Eliza Savvidou through her reports, which should have been taken into account by the state and the competent state authorities, but did not…

The President woke up

The nudity of our state services has been revealed in the last days in the most tragic way. We had to count five migrant women and two little girls dead (so far) – all cases of disappearance that the Police did not bother to search in depth, as they were “black people who went to the occupied territories” – to raise the awareness of the President of the Republic and to announce measures, confessing (unwittingly?) a horrible reality that points to the incompetence and anesthesia of the “competent”. The day before yesterday, President Anastasiadis spoke about 3,600 so many complaints about employees who have left their jobs and basically no one knows where they are and what they are doing – only assumptions are made, such as “they went to the occupied territories”, “returned to their country”, “work” illegally to another master “. The President pledged to set up “a special department in the office of the Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights, which will examine any complaints concerning the livelihood of third-country workers in Cyprus”. Good morning and good luck! This office has been dealing with these creatures for years and has been publishing reports that the President has probably not even flipped through.

Inferior God

One of the most interesting public interventions of the former Commissioner of Administration Eliza Savvidou is her position as a National Independent Human Rights Authority regarding the status of domestic workers (third country nationals) in Cyprus (2/7/2013, Head: Aristos: Group: Thekla Dimitriadou, Despina Mertakka). The problematic aspects that he singled out and analyzed – and demonstrated and are demonstrating in the clearest way our mentality – concerned the following issues:

  • The ignorance of the gender dimension of domestic work.
  • The sexual harassment of domestic workers in the workplace.
  • The content of the Employment Contract.
  • The absence of trade union freedom.
  • Inadequate access to health services and health care – Inadequate maternity protection.
  • The problematic nature of the Labor Dispute Examination process.
  • The arrest and detention of domestic workers pending labor dispute or at the time of filing the complaint.
  • The inability to identify exploitation practices that potentially constitute trafficking in persons for labor exploitation purposes.
  • The role of “agents” and the inadequate enforcement of legislation on private employment agencies.
  • The absence of political integration of domestic workers.

Invisible maids

In particular, it is noted that “especially, in the conscious or unconscious of a vast majority, both men and women, the work associated with cleanliness suddenly becomes 'female work', with all that socially implies: and what is mainly implied is that This is an official job. This is because employers are not interested in hiring third-country nationals in general as professional domestic workers, but especially for foreign female domestic workers, who usually live with them, usually accept more and more awkward working hours, are available around the clock and offer both cleaning and care services “. And according to a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) prepared ahead of the June 2010 conference, “paid domestic work remains, in many countries, an almost invisible form of employment. It is conducted not in the factory or in the office, but in the home of an individual. Employees are not men who support their families but, the vast majority, women. They do not work with others, but alone within four walls. “Their job is not to generate added value but to provide care or services to millions of households.”

Circuits and hiring process of domestic helpers

The role of agendas

As revealed during the investigation of the office of the Commissioner of Administration and Human Rights Eliza Savvidou, the role of Private Employment Offices (IGEE) in the entry and stay of domestic workers in Cyprus, is crucial for many aspects of their working conditions. The manager (“agent”) of a private employment office undertakes to look for on behalf of the employer and on the basis of his needs -through his connections with respective IGEE in the countries of origin- domestic domestic workers from third countries. “As I have noticed through the investigation of the complaints submitted to me, what happens in practice is that the 'agent' or 'agent' picks up the employee upon her arrival in Cyprus, transports her to the house where she is going to work and 'delivers' her documents to the employer. In the event of problems in the employment relationship, it is often called upon to play a 'mediating' role between the parties to find a compromise solution. If for any reason the employment relationship is not maintained, the agent often undertakes to find a new employer for the domestic worker. The domestic worker, having an absolute need to continue her stay in Cyprus, at least until she pays off the debts she shouldered in her country of origin, shows confidence in the agent and often pays amounts requested from him, illegally. If the goal is not achieved, the agent abandons the effort, while there are also cases where he plays a decisive role in the removal, by summary procedures, of a domestic worker from Cyprus, at the request of an employer “.

The invisible domestic helpers in Cyprus

Since 2013, the former Commissioner of Administration Eliza Savvidou spoke of “ease with which domestic workers become 'outlawed' / invisible / undeclared”, conditions that give rise to their exploitation


The strongly intervening role of the agent either in maintaining or terminating the employment relationship leaves a lot of room for determining the fate of the domestic workers with whom they are associated, as well as a lot of room for unfair speculation, the former commissioner notes. “As I have observed during my research, for profit-driven, in addition to the registered IGEE, there are also 'unofficial' agents who operate illegally and extra-institutionally, intensifying the exploitation of the most vulnerable groups of immigrants. “The role of agents in trafficking cases for exploitation purposes is one of the main components of crime.”

The invisible domestic helpers in Cyprus


It is noted that domestic workers, with whom “P” has spoken, fully confirm what is mentioned above, but categorically refused to speak by name. They did not even want to mention the initials of their name or their country of origin. They state that they are terrified by circuits that disrupt the employment processes of domestic workers and that threaten members of their families in case anything is said regarding this issue. It is also worth mentioning that the domestic workers who spoke to us include members of the Police in the circuits, which is why they are afraid, as they claim, to make any complaint.

All about education

Congratulations, you won a… Filipino! Who can now rest in a travel suitcase in the toxic waters of the red lake of Mitsero. At Christmas 2015, in a primary school in a large municipality in the province of Larnaca, among the Christmas presents – air tickets, food, shoes, clothes, toys – there were also two discount coupons for… domestic helpers, a kind offer from an agent who brought money Cyprus. The non-governmental organization Cyprus STOP Trafficking, submitted to the office of the Commissioner of Administration “a complaint regarding the lottery lottery at the Christmas party at the First Primary School of Aradippou in Larnaca, which concerned free services during the procedures of admission of a domestic helper”. In the context of the investigation of this incident, Ms. Savvidou, as an Authority against Discrimination, notes in the relevant report dated 25/1/2016, the position of the school principal: “[…] As usual, every year in all schools, parent associations provide various prizes for the lottery at the Christmas party. My school parent association provided gifts from various individuals and companies for the lottery such as heating oil coupons, airline tickets, scholarships to private tutoring centers for English and PC, vouchers to buy food from supermarkets, coupons from clothing and footwear stores, toys, books etc. Among the gifts that were secured were two discount coupons from a job search office, which is active in the field of importing foreign workers, but also other services such as health insurance, employer liability insurance, issuance of tickets abroad, services related to the Population Archive Department etc. It is noted that such discount vouchers from this office had been given this year but also in the past to other schools for the lotteries […]. from the services of the office that concerned the domestic helpers, published on the website of the newspaper that the parents' association of my school drew a domestic helper in a Christmas lottery. This post, as it was written, gave the impression that the link had a domestic helper on stage and made the draw. Nothing more untrue […]. ”Obviously, according to the principal of this school, there was no problem, it was the journalists' fault.

Source: politis.com.cy

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