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Usa News

Myrtle Witbooi, who fought for domestic workers’ rights, dies at 75


“The institution of domestic service itself constitutes the Deep South of apartheid,” wrote Jacklyn Cock, a sociologist, in “Maids and Madams,” a study published in 1980. “It is the most gross and most hidden inequality in this society.”

It was not until 2002 that the government introduced a minimum wage for domestic workers. The current minimum is the equivalent of $1.34 per hour, but it is often lower, especially for migrant workers from other African states.

Myrtle Michels was born on August 31, 1947 in the small town of Genadendal, east of Cape Town, the location of one of the oldest Christian mission stations in South Africa. His mother, Maria, was a cook and his father, Johannes, was a carpenter.

She married Cédric François Witbooi, an electrical technician, in 1973. Their marriage broke up in the 1980s, she said, due to her time-consuming work as a shop steward in a factory after leaving her job. domestic employment. Mr Witbooi died around 20 years ago, according to Dr Fish.

Ms Witbooi is survived by three children, Jacqui Michels, Linda Johnson and Peter Witbooi, and three grandchildren.

The hardest part of her job, she once said, was the strain on her family.

“What hurts us is being separated from our children,” she said. “It’s also like you feel like you don’t belong anywhere, even among your own.”

At times, his union work was hampered by financial and organizational difficulties. The South African Domestic Workers Union disbanded in 1996, succumbing to “financial difficulties and leadership disagreements”, wrote Debbie Budlender, author and researcher at the University of Cape Town, in an article for the Office. International Labor Conference in Geneva in 2016.

nytimes Gt

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