Guatemalan domestic personnel are more vulnerable to the COVID-19 economic and social impact than other workers due to their livelihood and labor conditions.
According to the Union of Domestic, Maquila and Related Workers’ (Sitradom) president, Floridalma Contreras, domestic workforces are predominately women who are under no legal employment ways. From the 550 members of the union, the majority are illiterate and migrants from San Marcos, Quiché Huehuetenango, and Izabal departments.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, many of them adopted “doors inside” work modality, staying at the patron housing to comply with their working time and the curfew. Employers impose this working mode, most of the cases. “Many are paid less than the minimum wage because employers argue that they provide them with shelter and food”, Contreras affirmed.
Because of these schedules, many of the domestic workers cannot properly rest, don´t have a leave day or are prevented from going home, all of that without overtime pay. Sitradom leader said that the domestic workers workload has increased. Housekeepers and employers demand more cleaning processes, a daily cycle task.
“Women are being tremendously affected by the social impact of the COVID-19 which exacerbates gender inequalities. We need a response to the crisis that takes into account the needs of women.”
In addition to these circumstances, the domestic worker has to go into public crowded spaces to shop for the family. They comply with this assignment without basic prevention supplies, like masks or anti-bacterial gel.
Las mujeres están siendo tremendamente afectadas por el impacto social de la pandemia del #covid19 que exacerba las desigualdades de género. Necesitamos una respuesta a la crisis que tenga en cuenta las necesidades de las mujeres. pic.twitter.com/4twJNR4c5K
— ONU Mujeres Guatemala (@onumujeresgt) April 20, 2020
On the other hand, many housing employers ceased services under contagious risk arguments. Domestic workers without unemployment guarantees are economically unprotected during the Guatemalan labor crisis due to the virus.
According to the latest National Employment and Income Survey, in 2016, there are more than 250,000 domestic workers in Guatemala. Men make up just four percent of the sector. According to the study, most of them work as drivers, janitors or gardeners.