OFWs push for ratification of ILO Convention recognizing domestic work as work

Global alliance of overseas Filipino workers Migrante International called on the Philippine government and host countries to immediately ratify the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention on Domestic Work.

The ILO Committee on Domestic Workers adopted the Convention last July 2011, recognizing domestic work as work and bestowing upon domestic workers equal rights and recognition as other workers.

ILO’s adoption of the Convention was considered a milestone by Migrante International – a product of long years of hard-fought struggle to secure the rights of domestic workers.  In 2010, the number of Filipino domestic workers deployed were 154,535 which accounted for 45% of deploys for that year, according to government statistics. Remittances of Filipino domestic workers are therefore a significant portion of the total number of total remittances that support the Philippine economy.

“Yet their rights are persistently ignored. The Convention provides an opportunity to ensure that their rights are respected.  The provisions in the Convention set a standard which all states should follow and the recognition of which would protect DW around the world,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Martinez said that for so long, domestic workers have been denied equal rights and recognition while facing harsh conditions at work and in society.

“They are most vulnerable to abuse and often mistreated by employers. Many are beaten and raped, and many are murdered. They are lowly-paid and do not enjoy social protection, isolated and discriminated against and without legal recourse because their work is not considered as work and not covered by any existing legal frameworks. Worse, their marginalization is implicitly condoned by the State as the principal agent peddling domestic workers like ordinary commodities without guarantee of protection or avenues for redress of grievance,” he said.

He said the struggle is far from over as the ILO Convention still needs at least two countries to ratify it by July 2012. Countries must also pass local legislation to ensure the protection of the rights of domestic workers according to the ILO’s standards.“The 12-month deadline is almost over. Until now, not one country has ratified the Convention, not even the Philippines which chaired the ILO Committee in Geneva when it was passed. Also, the Philippine government’s sincerity is also reflective of its failure to pass a national legislation,” he said.

The Kasambahay Bill, for instance, has been pending in Congress for 16 years now.

“Only time will tell if this “landmark” decision will help alleviate the plight of domestic workers, including migrant domestic workers.  As the global alliance of progressive organizations of migrant Filipinos, MIGRANTE International shall remain at the frontline of the struggle for the rights and welfare of domestic workers and their fight for justice and the total eradication of modern-day slavery victimizing migrant workers around the world,” Martinez said.###