When women intervene, something more than class relation appears… (Feminized Labor unrest in Kenya, Indonesia, Pakistan, Zambia)

22.03.2011 § Leave a comment

“A struggle of women, even with ordinary demands which
are themselves not particularly “feminine” (wages, working
conditions, layoffs…) is never just a struggle or a strike, but
always a struggle or a strike by women. In fact, the contradiction
between men and women is never absent, whether it is
addressed as such or just present in the themes. All women’s
movements bring to the table (or just make apparent) the
question of the separation of the private and public spheres
(to challenge their separation is to challenge their very existence,
which is nothing if not separate) constituting the
wage relation; the question of subsistence, of solidarity and
of unproductive-reproductive labor, that is to say, the organization
of life despite exchange; the question of sexuality (an
ostensible public appearance is always attached to a deviant
sexuality); and finally the pleasure of being together not only
as female workers or employees, but as women….

In their own struggles or in that of male workers, when women
intervene, even in the direct expression of ordinary demands,
a different dimension, something other than the reflexive
game between the classes, always appears.”

— TC: “Comrades, But Women”

Nurses and midwives are staging-go slows and inciting strikes in Kenya and Indonesia; women faced with the paticular oppressions of feminized labor in Pakistan and Zambia are pissed and rising up:

The 180 nurses at the hospital staged the go-slow on 16 March to protest at being overworked and the withholding of their uniform and other allowances by the hospital’s management

— KENYA: Nurse’s go-slow

Eight nurses and midwives have been arrested in Jayapura for their
involvement in a strike that resulting in a halt to services at the
general hospital in Jayapura. They face charges of inciting their
colleagues to take part in a strike.

INDONESIA (Jayapura) Nurses and Midwives arrested for inciting strike

Sindh Labour Minister Ameer Nawab said home-based workers, an overwhelming majority of whom were women, were not only paid less but they also did not have any job security. Besides, since they were not considered workers in the legal term, they could not get registered with various social security schemes of the government.

— PAKISTAN: Policy for Home-based Workers Sought

“Many women have been flocking our office with numerous complaints of alleged poor condition of services. Many have complained that they were working under harsh condition of services and in some case they were dismissed without any benefits despite the years they have served,” she said.

Mrs Tonga appealed to the ministry of Labour and Social Security to intervene in the matter.

And Chipata Muslim Association of Zambia vice chairperson Aiyub Mogra said his association had not received such complaints from the maids.

“Maids have never complained of their alleged poor conditions of service to the association. We are not aware of complaints,” he said

East Women’s Lobby Bemoans Poor Work Conditions for Domestic Workers


Indonesia bans women from being domestic workers in Malaysia: on removing women from the public sphere

27.02.2011 § 1 Comment

Indonesian state responds to abuse of maids by banning people from the job… Wild article, read here on ludmila p

…19 months ago, following horrific reports of beatings, rapes and other abuse of maids by Malaysian employers, Indonesia barred its citizens from taking new jobs as domestic workers here. Since then, help has been in short supply. And Malaysians are not happy.

I mean, imagine them doing this to any other sector? “Car factories are killing 5 people a day, let’s just ban them from increasing the labor force for a while”. The immediate similarity is i guess prostitution “that shit’s dangerous/unsavory lets make it illegal”. It certainly seems like this move on the part of the indonesian state will just bifurcate the Domestic Worker community into above- and under-ground, with all new hires having to sneak around illegally.

Seems that the state’s response to violence in women-dominated fields, is to push the working population in this trade (majority women) out of the publicly recognized labor force. Women are produced in the private sphere and remain immanently tied to it, always potentially roped back out of society, back into the nothingness which is society’s outside.

Anyway in this case there’s the added complexity of it being the Indonesian gov who is banning its own citizens from going to malaysia and becoming maids. The article says the Indonesian and Malaysian governments are “negotiating” over pay and working conditions.

its also interesting that you have what sounds like middle and lower-middle class people in Malaysia being able to afford maids from Indonesia, and not being able to find Malaysians to do the job – which means the cost of labor power is really really low in Indonesia, but not in Malaysia (same relationship here in the US of course, with the US and many countries to the south). This uneven geography of labor power  costs in relation to the trade of female domestic labor is vurry interesting… any good reads out there?


the nothing

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