Affiliation of domestic workers to social security advances

By Cristina Salmerón

Perla Araujo is already weighing her years; He acknowledges that his arms and knees hurt. But living alone, having to pay rent and having no one to help her pay her expenses, she has no alternative but to keep working.

“Until I can,” he says in an interview. She belongs to that one percent of Household Workers (PTH) that has managed to affiliate with the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) in the pilot program.

Ana Laura Aquino, an activist from the group Homeworkers Together in Defense of All Our Rights, also has social security. While Matilde González is waiting to achieve that right, which will be an obligation in Mexico from the vote on the reform initiative to the Social Security Law in the Senate of the Republic, in the next legislature that begins in September of this anus.

“The legal change is important, but that does not guarantee that the more than two million domestic workers that we are in Mexico will be able to access immediately, they are processes in which we will have to do a lot of coordination work and dialogue with society, employers. Everyone has to contribute from the responsibility that corresponds to them, ”says Norma Palacios, Collegiate Secretary of the Union of Domestic Workers (Sinactraho).

On August 30, 2015, more than 50 or 100 domestic workers made the decision to form a union. “It was the way we found to defend our rights. It was not the initiative of one person but of organizational work that has been accompanied by various organizations ”, he explains.

Whoever has people working in domestic chores, either daily or on fixed days of the week and does not register them in social security, will commit an offense. To achieve this obligation, there are three aspects in which the federal government and the IMSS have worked: conducting the pilot test for the incorporation of domestic workers into the Mandatory Social Security Regime; modifications to the Social Security Law; and ratification of Convention 189 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), which entered into force as of July 4, 2021.

Pedro Américo Furtado de Oliveira, director of the ILO Country Office for Mexico and Cuba, asserted that although a country does not acquire a formal commitment when ratifying an agreement, it does adhere to principles that must be applied on a voluntary basis.

“The ILO generates minimum standards so that countries can apply, adopt and guide their public policies and we know that in order to achieve this they are gradual processes”, he said in the discussion “Towards the implementation of ILO Convention 189 in Mexico and Security Social ”, on July 7.

Furtado de Oliveira pointed out that the effort that the Mexican state has launched to pay off the historical debt with the PTHs must be recognized, including the pilot program that, he said, despite the pandemic has grown steadily.

PTH membership has been seen as an act of goodwill. Therefore, it is reiterated that doing so is paying a “historical debt” with this feminized and precarious sector of the population made up of 2,288,680 people, of which 95 percent are women, according to 2020 data from the Survey. National Occupation and Employment (ENOE) of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi).

“This law is not of good will. From the moment we vote on the reform of the Social Security Law, it will be mandatory. Ok, you do not register her, she does not know that she has that right, but if something happens to her on the way to your house, she falls inside the house, if she gets sick, if she is disabled and you did not have her registered with Social Security , you can prosecute the issue and it will cost you retroactively, ”Patricia Mercado, senator of the Citizen Movement, mentioned in an interview.

Perla Araujo, 69, worked at the General Hospital of Mexico as part of the cleaning team. She was hired by a private company that was supposed to have affiliated with the IMSS, but when she fell and broke her shoulder, she discovered that there were periods when she was discharged without notifying her. The moment of his downfall was one of those.

She was fired for complaining. The same doctors from this hospital of the Ministry of Health treated her and some others hired her as a domestic worker in their homes. Even in a pandemic, they helped her register for Social Security.

“Because of my age, they no longer give me a job anywhere and this is something I can do. For all this, I am eternally grateful to them ”, she explains.

Araujo acknowledges that although it was not such a simple procedure and takes about three or four days of paperwork, it is worth doing. Every month one of the doctors who joined her performs a capture line; she collects the proportional share from each employer and pays for their insurance.


By simplifying the process, the affiliations are positive

The pilot test, in its phase I, where the domestic worker was responsible for registering, was in force from April 2019 to October 20, 2020. In the second it already corresponded to those who employed them.

After concluding the pilot test, it was observed that the gender issue continues to be key. An important piece of information provided by Senator Patricia Mercado is that between 96 and 98 percent of yard workers and drivers are men. In caring for people and housework, 97 or 98 percent are women.

Only one percent of this feminized sector was registered, against 16 or 18 percent of gardeners and drivers. “It is a huge difference that is due to a cultural issue, the lack of recognition of domestic work where the vast majority are women,” explains Mercado.

Until March 2021, the IMSS reported about 27,205 affiliations, a positive number, although not very encouraging if the bulk of PTH is taken into account.

The legislator who is a member of the Labor and Social Welfare Commission in the Senate has followed up. “The results are good in the sense that in the mandatory regime the level of obstacles was such, even from the IMSS itself, that there were very few people.” Although Senator Mercado argues that even the IMSS had refused to cooperate more in the beginning, arguing that the majority were young women, therefore they were going to get pregnant and it was impossible to receive two million ”, the institution described this plan as a way to achieve social equality.

In a March 2019 statement, when the pilot for PTH membership began, the then general director of the IMSS, Germán Martínez, welcomed the initiative. “At the IMSS no bells and whistles or early celebrations because a gigantic debt of discrimination, racism and, in many cases, humiliation with domestic workers is just beginning to be paid,” he said.

Now, the process to register PTHs has been simplified and is more accessible, an incentive to achieve greater affiliation. “Progress has been difficult because for now 90 percent of the monthly social security fee is paid by the employer and 10 percent by the worker. So, it has not reached a tripartite level where the State gives its contribution. If we talk about the need for someone to earn at least 3,200 pesos a month in order to have medical care, not all employers want it, ”says activist Ana Laura.

In Matilde’s case, in past years her employers have told her that, due to the difficulty of the process, they prefer to raise her salary. Some of her colleagues have been given a discount on their payment as a condition of giving them social security and that is why they prefer not to claim. But if the process is made easier for employers, and there is greater awareness of this great debt, everything will go in the right direction.

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