Press Release
September 8, 2012

Decent Work for Domestic Workers Now A Reality - Visayan Forum

Visayan Forum, a Philippine-based NGO against modern slavery, celebrated the formal registration of the Philippine ratification of International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 189 last September 5, optimistic that this will make decent work for domestic workers a reality.

With the Convention set to enter into force a year after the Philippines' ratification, Ma. Cecilia Flores Oebanda, Executive Director of the Visayan Forum, praised the leadership of the Philippines in the advocacy for stronger protection of Filipino domestic workers here and abroad.

"This is a historic moment for millions of domestic workers in the Philippines and all over the world who have been waiting to get the recognition and the protection that they deserve," said Oebanda.

Under the Convention, ILO member-states are mandated to extend minimum wage, social protection, and other labor rights to domestic workers. Member states are also directed to take measures to ensure that all domestic workers are informed of the terms and conditions of their employment, preferably through written contracts. They are also mandated to determine the conditions governing the operation of private employment agencies recruiting or placing domestic workers. Further, member states shall take measures to ensure that domestic workers are entitled to keep in their possession their travel and identity documents.

"We are grateful to the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Foreign Affairs, civil society organizations, trade unions, and employers groups for the successful ratification campaign. We thank Senator Loren Legarda for championing this Convention in the Senate, which made it possible for the Philippines to be the second country to ratify the Convention," Oebanda added.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, for her part, stressed that "with the Convention soon entering into force, the travails that our domestic workers go through - treated as property, forced to work long hours, and unable to demand their human rights, their basic civil liberties - should end."

"This landmark accomplishment strengthens our resolve and leverage in negotiating for stronger protection and better terms and conditions of employment of our domestic workers. Saudi Arabia was among those who voted in favor of adopting this ILO Convention on June 16, 2011, as did other Middle East countries with a high concentration of Filipino domestic workers such as Kuwait, UAE, Lebanon and Syria. We call on them to join us in ratifying this Convention as well," said Legarda.

Oebanda and Legarda also noted that the House of Representatives approved last Wednesday H.B. 6144, the Kasambahay bill, guaranteeing standards of protection and standard employment benefits to domestic workers in the Philippines. The Senate approved its version of the bill, which was co-authored by Legarda in December 2010.

Oebanda stressed that the full enforcement of these measures will change the plight of Filipino domestic workers.

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