What is LOBBY? Influencing decision-making process to include your views
Why LOBBY? Because you are right and things have to change
When to LOBBY? All the time
Who to LOBBY? Everybody
How to LOBBY? No rules…all weapons allowed
RESPECT's 10 point handbook for an effective lobby
Determine priority issues (confiscation of passport, non-payment of wages, violence, regularisation etc…)
Identify the core of the problem (even if it is difficult and everything seems to be linked): Are employers abusive because they know workers have no papers or because they think they are too weak to fight back? Is the problem in the legislation / lack of legislation/ or non-respect of the legislation? Can this legislation apply to workers of your organisation when they have no papers? Would ‘papers’ or ‘long term working permits’ solve all problems?
Get more information (very important! Information is power) In asking yourself questions about the core of the problem you will also identify some of the information you are missing. One key part of any successful lobbying is the quality of the ‘research work’. The first contact you will have with people (maybe future lobby targets) will simply be to ask them questions. This will allow you:
-To get used to contact people
-To formulate clear queries
-To identify supportive/non-supportive persons
-Not to take risks… You simply ask questions
-To get a better picture of your environment and existing ‘resources’ (Other organisations working on regularisation/migrant women/violence, Trade Unions with units specifically dealing with domestic work etc…)
Empower workers! The discussions you will have, the effort you will put in to determine the core of the problem, the phone calls you are going to make, the information you are going to get will make you feel stronger (your problems can be listed on one piece of paper they are no longer a mountain) and less isolated (people know what you are talking about, you meet other organisations working on similar issues), therefore it is important that all workers are involved to share these positive feelings – the ‘mobilisation of the troops’ will then be easier.
After this ‘preparative phase’ and depending on the information you will have obtained you should be able to set clear goals. You can have different sets of objectives:
-Short term: get the issue of migrant domestic workers on the agenda of a local branch of a trade union, present the issue of migrant women in domestic work to ‘migration experts’, help one worker to get her pay back.
-Long term: change in the labour law, regularisation, increase of salary, money to build a ‘cooperative’ of migrant domestic workers etc…
Make a list of your ‘lobby targets’ or ‘who makes the decision’. Try to make your list as large as possible. It is always good to ask everybody you are contacting if they know of some other people/organisation/individuals that could be interested/help/not help on this issue.
An important part of the strategy consists of building alliances or ‘how to transform your lobby targets in allies’.If you feel too small to lobby the government on immigration law, start by lobbying ‘smaller targets’ – trade union representatives, university teachers, other NGOs, little by little they can become allies. It is this kind of ‘small victory’ which will bring you a step further. As migrant domestic workers you can find support in migrant organisations, women's organisations, human rights organisations, workers' organisations etc…
Prepare your ‘weapons’ (letter, fax, leaflets, phone calls…) The biggest strength in lobbying is your determination and your absolute certainty that your cause is just. This will give an enormous amount of energy and ideas and will allow you to bluff without turning red!!!! (Oh yes! We definitely represent close to 1000 women… ) For each letter that you send call to know if they have received it and when they are going to answer you. Before you make a phone call it is easier if the people already have an idea of who you are (eg. you have already called to ask questions or you have sent a letter). Ask also to meet the person and always go in a group of two or three (no more to keep a good balance). Even if you feel that you are getting mad at the hypocrisy of people stay calm and polite. You might need this person later…
Train with other workers on how to become a master in the art of communication and diplomacy or ‘how to make people completely change their mind without even noticing…’
-Always start by presenting who you are (It does not matter if you are a small organisation with no statutes or just individuals– you do not need to go into details and your ‘legitimacy’ does not come from your size but from the strength of what your are defending – right to a pay for the work done, right not to be submitted to violence etc…)
-Describe the situation you are denouncing and prepare your argumentation; test the words that generate emotions/reaction/absolute urge to help
-Adapt your speech to each person your meet insisting on what they could find important. Drop little ‘key information’ in the middle of the conversation (By the way to you know that the European Commission/Naomi Campbell support us)
-Explain what the main problems that you encounter are and suggest how to make things change. Always finish a conversation/letter with ‘dynamic’ proposal (If you agree with us could you send our materials/write a letter/ phone your contacts to help…)
Use the ‘Momentum’ or create it… This word is a typical lobby word. There are certain events which will have an ‘accelerating’ effect on your campaign (elections, changes of government, conference on migrant women taking place close to where you live, new head of unit in a trade union) A way to create such momentum is also to organise a meeting, invite people to speak, organise a demonstration etc…
Kalayaan campaign for Overseas Domestic Workers
Priority: Change visa policy for migrant domestic workers
Analysis: Visa has the name of the employer, if employer is abusive and you fly away you immediately become illegal and you can be expelled
Source of Information: immigration office, trade unions etc…
Empowerment: Organisation of an underground Trade Union ‘Waling Waling’
Goal: Change in visa regulation to enable workers to change employer / regularisation Lobby target: Government
Building alliances: T&GWU
Weapons: letter, poster, seminars, demonstration
Communication: Use direct testimony of women of what they have experience at the hand of their employer, document the abuses, establish figures to prove how systematic it was.
Momentum: Change in government