Mara Moustafine and Maria Tence.
The role of research in uncovering the conditions of migrant women workers, as revealed in the report "But I wouldn't want my wife to work here".
15 April 2009
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The FILEF organisation had commissioned a report that Des Storer undertook and it was a benchmark report revealing the true conditions of exploitation that occurred on the factory floor. The report was called, “But I wouldn’t want my wife to work here.” And it was a – basically interviews with factory owners and women themselves and the women pointed out the difficulties they were having coming from environments where they didn’t work, coming to a community where they had to work. They had young families and there was a disparity between their rights as not being able to access services, because lack of knowledge and language and being able to contribute as a worker.
So, you know, childcare became a big issue because a lot of these women had children – very young children at home that were being left at home while they went to work in factories, where they took on shifts so they could compliment their husband’s shifts and so basically the – workers were being, they felt that they were contributing to the economic development but there was little taking – their welfare wasn’t being considered so there was – and it wasn’t just with the Italian community, I mean, the Greek and the Spanish community, the Maltese, a lot – non-English speaking migrant women felt vulnerable, felt frustrated and felt exploited.
Their voicing these views started together with the – the women’s movement and the feminist movement, changes to services, started at that time. So, again it was just a combination of women starting to demand rights and the Italian – the Australian community being open to these views. FILEF was a very strong player in that and – and Ann Sgro who is still alive, who was married – who is married to Giovanni Sgro, both very important individuals who were advocates for changes to services for migrant workers and migrant women workers in particular. Their contribution was huge in that field.