Domestic workers have faced the brunt of the Covid-19 crisis, say trade union officials, whose members have often been left high and dry by employers, with little protection from the government.

“Hunger is getting worse,” Gloria Kente, an organiser in the Western Cape for the South African Domestic and Service Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU).

She said most domestic workers had either lost their jobs or had been indefinitely laid off due to Covid-19. Most of those who lost their jobs were not registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund because employers did not comply with the regulations. UIF regulations were changed early on during the lockdown to accommodate such cases. However, says Pinky Mashiane, founder of the United Domestic Workers of South Africa (UDWOSA), there are technological barriers for domestic workers who might apply.