Legarda: Approve ILO Convention 189; Make Decent, Dignified Work for Domestic Workers a Reality

Senator Loren Legarda sought the approval of Senate Resolution No. 816, through which the Senate will concur in the ratification of International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 189, the Convention ConcerningDecent Work for Domestic Workers.

“In plain language, ILO 189 is underscoring the fact that domestic workers, like other workers, must enjoy the same mantle of basic rights, such as reasonable hours of work, weekly rest, clear information on terms and conditions of employment, and freedom of association,” she explained during her sponsorship speech.

“Domestic workers are not nameless persons. They have families.  They send siblings to school.  They work, just like us, but unlike us, many of them are denied their rights and are stripped of their dignity as a human being, and it is this injustice that we must end,” she stressed.

Legarda, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Relations, noted that the Convention was adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in June 2011 under the chairmanship of the Philippine Government.

“By ratifying the Convention, our advocacy for the rights of our domestic workers abroad is given unfettered meaning.  This will also bring into our doorsteps the mandate to provide for our domestic workers what we ask other countries to provide for them when they work overseas,” she said.

She further remarked that domestic workers are mostly women and minors, and that they account for the highest percentage of workers being deployed for work abroad, reaching more than 100,000 in 2010 alone.

“The Cebu DSWD revealed that 80% of the reported victims of rape, attempted rape, and other acts of sexual abuse involved child domestic workers. Horrific stories of abused adult domestic workers also abound.  The violations are usually in the form of long working hours with no rest periods; non-payment of wages or below poverty threshold wages; verbal abuse; physical abuse; sexual & psychological abuse; and lack of accommodation worthy of human dignity,” Legarda added.

According to Legarda, Filipino migrant domestic workers are bound to benefit the most from the ratification of ILO 189. “The Convention will ensure domestic workers that they are able to keep in their possession their travel and identity documents; encourage member-states to set standards for employment agencies. The Convention, as a work standards framework, provides an opportunity for the Philippines, as a sending country, to enter into bilateral, regional or multi-lateral agreements that prevent abuses and fraudulent practices.