ILO Convention 189 and its potential to domestic migrant workers’ rights after 4 years

ILO Convention 189 and its potential to domestic migrant workers’ rights after 4 years

The passage of the ILO C189 on June 16, 2011 was a remarkable historic moment, albeit optimism, in the  struggle for the recognition of domestic work as work subject to faithful ratification of the ratifying countries and implementation of those who ratified the ILO C189.

The ILO C189 is the first ILO instrument that specifically provides provisions for domestic workers rights. It is an international statute that laid principle for the recognition of domestic work as a form of employment and should be covered by core labor standards. While the ILO C189 merely affirms and more defined in its objective, such provisions were referenced from entirely existing general labor statutes that were supposed to have been enforced or been implemented by countries even before.

Admittedly, the passage of the ILO C189 was a victorious effort by grassroots migrant organizations and migrant service advocates on the ground.  And while the passage of the convention text was indeed a path to step forward, on the other hand, the ratification, adoption and implementation is of significant importance.  While the Philippines and other countries might have ratified the Convention as soon as after its passage but the implementation of the principle must be reflected in the labor migration policies to be seen effectively. Cases such as those of Mary Jane Veloso on human trafficking, physical and sexual abuses in the Middle East are still increasing and yet the effect of the C189 statute remained a “banner-slogan”. And while many of the sending and host countries in the ASEAN community ratified similar statutes and protocols for migrant rights protection, like the CEDAW, ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, Universal Human Rights Declaration, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, it failed to implement such existing laws to protect the migrant workers with its underlying purpose. Non-implementation of the existing laws and policies by both receiving and host countries will continue to deprive the migrant workers to their cardinal rights as human and as migrant workers.
ILO C189 in its 4th year is still to realize its potential as an international covenant between the three key parties, the domestic migrant workers, country of origin and country of work.
United for Foreign Domestic Workers’ Rights (UFDWR) and its networks had been advocating and promoting the ILO C189 ratification since its passage in the year 2011. Campaigns, advocacies and lobbying were done by the network in different occasions in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Middle East, Singapore and Malaysia and in other government embassies. UFDWR never halted its campaign on the recognition of domestic work as work and in the call for ratification and implementation of the C189 in all levels until this time. Thus, when the C189 remained to be unratified and unimplemented, UFDWR believes that foreign domestic workers will remain as commodities for overseas job markets, suffer physical and sexual abuses, forced to work long hours with no rest days, receive low wages and experience poor working conditions. The  cases of  abuses against Erwiana, Elis, Anis, Rowena and Kartika, all domestic workers in Hong Kong, physical and sexual abuses in the Middle East, human trafficking of Mary Jane Veloso and many more  are indisputable violations of the basic fundamental rights of migrant workers. Clearly, the non-ratification and implementation of the C189 by sending and host countries especially in the ASEAN community will contribute to the worsening conditions of domestic workers.  The call for recognition of domestic work as work will never be realized and put the migrant workers on long hold in the enjoyment of their rights as migrant workers.
Thus, United for Foreign Domestic Workers Rights (UFDWR) and its networks, while it hold its continuing commitment to the promotion of the domestic workers’ rights, strongly call on both the sending and host countries  of domestic migrant workers especially the ASEAN community to ratify and implement the C189! We call on all governments to recognize and implement all effective statutes and policies that protect the rights of domestic migrant workers, all nation to recognize domestic work as work to end modern day slavery.
Furthermore, we  urge on all migrant workers and grassroots migrants  organizations to campaign for the ratification and implementation of the C189 and to link migrant workers issues for promoting of its provisions and principles.#
No to Human Trafficking! End Modern Day Slavery Now! Ratify and Implement C189!

Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
Office Address: G/F, No. 2 Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR
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Email: sonia@apmigrants.org; apmm@apmigrants.org; Website: www.apmigrants.org

Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility (CARAM Asia)
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