Bringing the issue of domestic workers (migrants) to the public

During three weeks of September and October, an intermediary agency called Cizinky na úklid (Foreigners for cleaning) was marketazing its services: they were offering services of migrant women for the households – discretely, for a really cheap price and without unnecessary bureaucracy. It was supposed to start its activities on the 15th of October. Fortunately it did not happen because the agency is not real.

It was “established” by non-profit organizations Association for Integration and Migration and People in Need, commentator Kateřina Kristelová and creative agency Ogilvy&Mather and Mather Advertures as part of a campaign promoting the rights of migrants-domestic workers and aiming to reach wider public. We would like to apologize to those who received untruthful or zero information in a few past weeks. Also we would like to explain our motivation.

The Cizinky na úklid agency had a lot of attention, both media and public. Many people criticized the fact that women are offered as goods, that they will be in the house 24/7, that you do not have to “do too much paper work” and therefore there is no contract in written. They also castigated the Agency for human trafficking and contemporary slavery. Descriptions of the workers from the website did not underwhelm you and we want to thank you for this. You being scandalized means that the stories of migrants working in Czech homes did not leave you indifferent which is commendable.

Nevertheless, we would like to underline that even though the Agency was fake, everything that scandalized you was based on real events.

There are a few agencies working on the Czech market. They might not be presented in the same scandalous way like The Cizinky na úklid agency but they offer the same. Direct employment of nannies, nurses, housekeepers and cleaning ladies is a real thing in theCzechRepublicand this phenomenon is even going to spread and become more common. Interviews from ongoing researches or legal and social counseling show that these workers experience what the texts from the website say – contracts not being respected, unpaid overtime, lack of privacy and respect and so on. The workers are willing to make compromises as they need to take care of their children and families in their home country. Sometimes if they lose their nanny jobs they will have no income and might even lose their accommodation.

The following quotation is unfortunately not made up, unlike those used for the purposes of “our” agency: “The room where I live is a common space but it has its own toilet. I really like this… If I want to change my clothes or I don’t want them to see me having rest in the room, I just lock myself in the rest room and sit for a while alone. I especially do this in the evening so nobody sees what I’m doing, they can’t come to check on me what I’m doing and they can’t tell me they need me to do something else.” (Shanti, a woman from the Philippines, working as a live-in domestic worker in the CzechRepublic.) We would be happy if it was not true but the fact that somebody has no privacy but in the rest room is an everyday reality to more women living in the CzechRepublic, not just to Shanti. Similar stories where the reality and fiction meet can be found on the website in the section Campaign.

The aim of the campaign is to show that domestic work is a job like any other, thus it is subject to the Labor Code. In fact it is being underestimated and undervalued. For these reasons we wanted to make an appeal to the families employing the workers to be fair to their employees. For this purpose we wrote so called Ten Commandments of a Fair Employer (and employees too, of course).

In the name of the Association for Integration and Migration and People in Need we would like to thank Kateřina Kristelová for her professional approach and devotion. She risked her professional reputation and had to face various media and personal confrontations connected with the campaign for the fictional Cizinky na úklid agency. It was a pleasure to work with her we appreciate her courage to support our controversial idea.

We are not sorry that the Agency did not start its activity. It was created in order to warn of a topic that is still invisible in our society. Thank you for the attention you will pay to it in the future.

For further information about the topic, campaign and project check our website

Comments are closed.