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Domestic work: Caroline Sotloe of SADWA

Last month a domestic worker was killed by a car. Domestic workers gave money to help the family.

Domestic workers are starting to work together. “We are now speaking with one voice.”

This is what Caroline Sotloe told Learn and Teach.

Caroline Sotloe is the chairperson of the Transvaal branch of the South African Domestic Workers Association (SADWA). There are also SADWA branches in Cape Town, and in Durban.

“SADWA wants to make life better for domestic workers,” says Caroline Sotloe.

Caroline Sotloe is a domestic worker herself. She has been in the same job for 24 years. She says: “We want domestic workers to earn more money. And we want more time off to see our families.

“Most domestic workers come from far away.

We don’t see our families often. “There are no laws to look after domestic workers.

Many employers treat domestic workers badly because there are no laws to look after domestic workers.

“We have no pension fund or unemployment insurance fund .

“SADWA must get strong. When we are strong, we can ask for laws to help us. Our branch has 1800 members already.”

SADWA started on February 26, 1981. On that day there was a big meeting of domestic workers.

At the meeting, the domestic workers chose 10 people for the Management Committee. The people stay on the Management Committee for one year.

But the chairperson, and the treasurer, stay on the Management Committee for two years.

“The Management Committee meets once a month, “says Caroline Sotloe.

“At the meetings we talk about new ideas for SADWA.

“We give membership cards to new members, and we send out a newsletter. We send a newsletter to all our members. The newsletter tells our members what SADWA is doing.”

SADWA members have to pay R3 per year. This is a membership fee.

“We need money” says Caroline Sotloe.

”We need money for court cases. SADWA pays the lawyers when a member needs help with the law.

“We need money for the newsletter. And we need money for travelling. We travel to meet SADWA members from Durban, and Cape Town.

Caroline Sotloe has one message for domestic workers.

“SADWA is still young, but we will grow strong.

“I ask all domestic workers to join us. We must speak with one voice. It is the only way”

Are you a domestic worker? Do you want to join SADWA?

Telephone 39-6757 and ask for Lola or Elizabeth.


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