AMSTERDAM - There is an invisible workforce keeping homes in the Netherlands spotless. Filipino cleaners run about Dutch cities each day, their packs filled with dozens of jingling keys. They are part of a community of thousands of undocumented migrants who clean homes in the Netherlands. They're indispensable but kept unseen.
The invisible plight of undocumented Filipino domestic workers in the Netherlands
It was only during the pandemic that society was forced to take a look. As the Netherlands faces the vulnerabilities of undocumented cleaners, will they also be granted recognition?
'We are trusted with the most precious thing there is, your homes and children, yet we are not allowed to be there.' Together Filipino journalist Michael Beltran and Dutch journalist Sarah Haaij explored the world of undocumented cleaning women.
Cleaners very much prefer to go unnoticed by the authorities. Likewise, Dutch society willfully tries to ignore them and the unseen troubles which are quite literally happening in their work behind closed doors.
For workers without proper papers that clean and sweep Dutch homes there is no work leave or social safety net. They are vulnerable to abuses such as underpayment, sexual abuse, labor exploitation, confinement, or homelessness.
© Sarah Haaij
- Onmisbaar en onzichtbaar: Filipijnse schoonmakers zonder papieren, Vrij Nederland, 18/05/2023.
- The Secret Struggles of Undocumented Filipino Cleaners in the Netherlands, The Diplomat, 16/06/2023;
- ‘Hoi, ik ben Tom. 21, al vijftien jaar in Nederland en ongedocumenteerd’, Wordt Vervolgd, 31/07/2023.
- Schoonmaken zonder papieren, Vrij Nederland, June 2023.
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