The nanny sector is in crisis.
In April, when Manuela’s employers started showing symptoms of coronavirus, she was faced with an impossible decision. A 22-year-old nanny from Brazil, she is one of the two million workers in the UK’s informal economy (many of whom are migrant women) who wasn’t eligible for any of the government support schemes. If she didn’t go to work, where she would be exposed to the virus, she wouldn’t get any cash. Without that cash she couldn’t pay for food and basic necessities.
Nannies and au pairs are often underpaid, with many working cash-in-hand without access to basic employment rights or sick pay. The pandemic has exacerbated this: despite being unable to wear PPE or socially distance at work, nannies across the UK have been refused furlough and expected to keep coming into work, even as schools and nurseries across the country shut their doors.
Many migrant and immigrant nannies and au pairs have No Recourse to Public Funds even if they have the right to work, tying workers to jobs they can’t leave even if they feel unsafe.
Despite these often exploitative working conditions, before the IWGB Nannies and Au Pairs Branch was launched, there was no active trade union for nannies to join to address the issues they face collectively.
During the first wave of the pandemic last year, nannies came together to form the Nanny Solidarity Network, a mutual aid group providing support, resources, emergency aid, community, and space for collective action to nannies and au pairs based in the UK. The IWGB Nannies and Au Pairs Branch works closely with the Nanny Solidarity Network. See the website here.
Nannies and au pairs are joining the IWGB with the aim to fight for better conditions, better pay, and safer ways of working. The third lockdown has seen organisers across the country fight for—and win—rights for key workers. It is time for nannies and au pairs to start building the sector they want to see. 💥