Two women called Jackie Cock and Nobengazi Kota wrote a book about domestic workers and madarns. The book is called Maids and Madams. In Maids and Madams we read about domestic work in Port Elizabeth and East London.
Jackie and Nobengazi talked to hundreds of women. All these women were domestic workers. They told Jackie and Nobengazi about their work and their problems.
UP EARLY, HOME LATE
Many of these women lived with their families in the township. But they did not see their families often. These women got up early in the morning. They worked all day. Then they went home late at night.
‘WE MUST WORK’
These women said: “We do not see our children. We leave them early in the morning. We do not like to leave our children. But we need money. So we must go to work.”
CHILDREN NOT WANTED
Other women live at their employer’s place. They do not see their children every day. One woman has three children. Her children can not stay with her. Her children live on a farm. Their grandmother looks after the children. The farm is far from the mother’s work. So the mother can only see her children once a month..
NO VISITS. TOO MUCH WORK
The domestic workers told Jackie and Nobengazi that they do not have a lot of friends. Some of their friends are also domestic workers. But they do not see their friends a lot. One woman said: “I do not visit my friends. There is no time. I have too much work to do.
DON’T EARN ENOUGH MONEY
All domestic workers told Nobengazi that they do not earn enough money. Some women said that they earn only R 14 per month. One woman earns R60 per month. With this money the women have to buy food and clothes for their families. They also have to pay rent, school fees and bus fares.
NOT ALLOWED TO EAT
Some of the women said that their employers give them food. But many women say they do not like this food. One woman said: “1 only get samp. But I cook every thing and I am not allowed to eat it.”
‘I DON’T LIKE MY JOB’
Most of the women say they do not like their jobs. One woman told Nobengazi: “1 do not like my job. But at least I have a job.
‘MY EMPLOYER DOESN’T CARE’
Another woman says about her employer:
“She does not care for me, or she would not pay me so little.”
THEY SELL THINGS
Some of the women say they need more money for their families. So they make things. They make jerseys and mats. Then they sell these things to get money.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
You have read a little bit about domestic work in the Eastern Cape. What do you think about the life of domestic workers in East London and Port Elizabeth? Is the life of domestic workers better in other places in South Africa?
Why do domestic workers have many problems? Why do they work so hard? Why do they get low pay?