Formalizing informal employment of domestic workers through cooperatives in Trinidad & Tobago

Members of the National Union of Domestic Workers (NUDE), Trinidad & Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago has an estimated 30, 000 domestic workers, who remain amongst the most undervalued, underpaid and under protected group of workers in the country.

The ILO Port of Spain Office, with support from the ILO COOP Unit, has been working with the National Union of Domestic Workers (NUDE) in strengthening their cooperative, the Service Workers Centre Cooperative Society Limited (SWCC) which aims to provide improved access to decent employment opportunities and related services, improve livelihoods and advance the overall social and economic well-being of its members. This cooperative enterprise of domestic workers generates job opportunities for domestic workers by seeking more and better contracts for cleaning and maintenance of private homes and small businesses.

In May this year, an initial consultation was undertaken towards conducting a needs assessment of the domestic workers’ union and cooperative towards supporting the rights of domestic workers and improving their terms and conditions of work.

From November 11 - 12, the ILO and NUDE organized a workshop and consultative meeting with SWCC members to engage in dialogue on the economic viability of employment and other services to be provided through the cooperative. More than 30 people from NUDE and SWCC as well as government departments and research institutions reviewed the recommendations from the needs assessment and discussed business planning; financing; governance; management; training and education; branding and marketing issues. The next steps in the collaboration between ILO, NUDE and SWCC will include the development of a new business plan for the cooperative as well as a wider national implementation strategy for the development of domestic workers’ cooperatives in the country.