Treaty to protect domestic workers comes into force-A A +A
Thursday, September 5, 2013
THE Domestic Workers Convention, a treaty that will provide basic and fair labor rights to domestic workers worldwide, including some 1.9 million Filipinos, came into force Thursday, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said.
Worldwide, there are some 53 million domestic workers, not including children. This number, the ILO said, has been steadily increasing even in developed and developing countries.
This number adds to an estimated 10.5 million children worldwide who are engaged in domestic work. About 83 percent of domestic workers are women.
The new convention becomes a binding international law Thursday, September 5.
It needed ratification by two ILO member States, but has already received ratification by eight ILO member States--Bolivia, Italy, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines, South Africa and Uruguay.
The ILO said that since the convention's adoption, several countries have passed new laws or regulations improving domestic workers' labor and social rights, including Venezuela, Bahrain, the Philippines, Thailand, Spain and Singapore.
Legislative reforms have also begun in Finland, Namibia, Chile and the United States, among others. Several others have initiated the process of ratification of ILO Convention 189, including Costa Rica and Germany.
"All this shows that the momentum sparked by the ILO convention on domestic workers is growing. The convention and recommendation have effectively started to play their role as catalysts for change. They now serve as a starting point for devising new polices in a growing number of countries--recognizing the dignity and value of domestic work," Manuela Tomei, director of the ILO's Working Conditions and Equality Department, said.
According to an ILO study from January 2013, entitled Domestic Workers Across the World, "domestic workers work for private households, often without clear terms of employment, unregistered and excluded from the scope of labour legislation."
At the time the research was conducted, only 10 percent were covered by general labor legislation to the same extent as other workers while more than one quarter are completely excluded from national labour legislation.
"Deplorable working conditions, labour exploitation and human rights abuses are major problems facing domestic workers," the ILO said.
It added that the lack of legal protection increases the vulnerability of domestic workers' and thus makes it difficult for them to seek remedies.
"As a result, they are often paid less than workers in comparable occupations and work longer hours."
"Today's entry into force of Convention 189 sends a powerful signal to more than 50 million domestic workers worldwide. I hope that it will also send a signal to ILO member-states and that we soon see more and more countries committing to protect the rights of domestic workers," Tomei said.
In the Philippines, there are 1.9 million workers, 2010 records showed. This is a 57 percent increase from the 1.2 million workers in 2001. These are ages 15 years old and up.
According to the ILO country report, there are many more domestic workers who are not accounted for in that figure. Children below the age of 15 years old who work as housemaid or "boy" are not counted in the labor force statistics.
Even those who are providing household services in exchange of shelter, food, education or simple daily subsistence, as well as foreign workers, are not included in the figure.
The report noted that domestic workers in the Philippines work "excessively long hours"--33 percent work nine to 10 hours a day while 20 percent work 11 hours or more daily.
Many are unable to enjoy a full weekly rest day, the report said.
In 2010, domestic workers receive P132.6 a day for the whole country, P176.2 per day in the National Capital Region and P158.3 in Calabarzon. This increased slightly from the figures in 2004, "but the real value has barely moved, even declining slightly in the capital region." (CVB/Sunnex)