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By Jacklyn Cock

Maids & Madams: A examine within the Politics of Exploitation

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Time Off During the Working Day of 175 Domestic Workers Time off/Rest periods 1/2 - 1 hour 1 - 2 hours 2 - 3 hours 3 - 4 hours No time off Number of workers 138 13 7 1 16 Several workers stressed that their time off was extremely rushed. I only sit down when I eat. I only have just enough time to eat. I just eat while I am standing washing the dishes. Like the factory worker who does a 44-hour week, the domestic worker may have to spend a considerable time each day travelling to and from work. This was true of the 42 living-out workers in the depth sample: 24 spent about an hour travelling to and from work; seven spent about half an hour: seven spent about two hours; one spent three hours and three spent a few minutes.

As one worker expressed it: Even on New Years Day I don't have off. Even if people come to visit me I have to leave them and go off to work. Such working conditions appear to be even worse than those of farm workers, the other group of ultra-exploitable and ultra exploited workers in the Eastern Cape. Antrobus found that the majority of farmers give one to two weeks leave each year, though 18 percent of the farmers give no leave at all. 4 4 In her earlier Eastern Cape study, Roberts found that 42 of the 73 farmers visited gave their permanent male workers regular annual paid leave, but only 11 gave more than eight days.

In the Eastern Cape, and throughout South Africa generally, payments in kind are frequently used to legitimize low cash wages. Income 'in kind' cannot be easily calculated. For example, payments in kind generally include food supplied, either full board for those living in, or meals at work for those living out. But, as Whisson and Weil point out, it is debatable whether this food should 'be valued in terms of what it cost the employer, in terms of the value that it represents to the employer (for example, left-overs that might have been thrown away had the servant not eaten them) .

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