Domestic Workers' Union

Find out about the Domestic Workers Union in South Africa - SADSAWU - South African Domestic and Allied Workers Union in South Africa on
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 Is there a union for domestic workers in South Africa?

Yes. SADSAWU is the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union.

When was it formed, and by whom?

SADSAWU was founded in 2000 by Myrtle Witbooi, a long time domestic worker advocate, and Hester Stephens, who is still a full-time domestic worker.

What does SADSAWU do?

SADSAWU provides services to South African domestic workers such as:

  • Job training and workshops
  • Legal advocacy
  • Mediation
  • Providing support in CCMA cases
  • Counseling concerning domestic workers’ rights and legal provisions
  • Campaigning for improvements in the laws affecting domestic workers
  • Providing information in support of both domestic workers and employers

Why the need for a union?

Domestic workers form one of the most vulnerable workforce groups. They are isolated from each other, due to the nature of their work, and are often completely at the mercy of their employers in terms of hours of work, duties performed, pay and leave. Although there is some legislation in place to protect domestic workers, it is not easy to monitor in private homes.

Also, there are important gaps in the legislation. Domestic workers are excluded from compensation for workplace injuries, for example. A SADSAWU member working in the Cape Town suburb of Bellville was washing windows when she fell off a ladder and broke her right arm. Subsequently she was fired and had to pay her own medical bills.

Are employers of domestic workers a part of the SADSAWU campaign?

Yes. SADSAWU aims to strengthen the relationship between employers and domestic workers. It wishes to inform employers and the general public of the service domestic workers provide and their contribution to the global economy.

How do I contact SADSAWU?

SADSAWU is based at:

Salt River Community House

No. 41 Salt River Road

Salt River

Cape Town


South Africa

Telephone: 021 448 0045

Fax: 021 448 0047


Hester Stephens: President:

Myrtle Witbooi: Provincial Secretary:

Read more

Find out more about Domestic Workers’ Rights.

Read an interview with SADSAWU President Hester Stephens on her work with SADSAWU