“Decent work is not a privilege but a matter of right for domestic workers,” Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said this yesterday in her keynote speech at the Civil Society Organization Forum on Decent Work for Domestic Workers in ASEAN, held at The Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros, Manila.
The forum, organized by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Philippine Migrants Rights Watch (PMRW) under the auspices of the ILO ASEAN Triangle Project, was attended and participated in by members and representatives of different civil society organizations (CSO) and government agencies such as the DOLE’s Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
“This forum is a testament that our shared advocacy on decent work for domestic workers continues to move forwards and gain support from the social partners,” the labor and employment chief said as she congratulated the ILO and the PMRW for organizing the said forum.
“The DOLE has long pursued the promotion and protection of the rights of domestic workers under the strong belief that they are entitled to as much rights as the other workers in societies,” Baldoz said as she expressed her gratitude to the ILO and its tripartite constituents for recognizing the domestic workforce through the adoption of ILO Convention 189 or the Domestic Workers Convention.
Baldoz reiterated that Convention 189 is truly a genuine step towards ensuring decent work for millions of domestic workers across the globe. She also noted that the Philippines had been instrumental in both the setting of standards for the Convention and in making the instrument to come into force.
Baldoz stated that the Philippines’ ratification of the DomWork Convention and the passage of the Kasambahay Law in January 2013 are manifestations of the government’s sincerest desire to make decent work a reality for domestic workers in the Philippines, describing the achievement as a product of 16 long years of the national journey towards provision of protection to, and promotion of the rights and welfare of the 1.9 million household service workers (HSW) within the Philippines and those 1.5 million deployed in various countries.
“It has given us the mandate and the moral ground to provide our domestic workers what we ask other countries to provide them when they choose to work overseas. We have raised their esteem by recognizing their rights and according them with utmost social protection through legislation and enforcement of applicable laws,” Baldoz said.
Considered as a landmark piece of labor and social legislation in Philippine history with respect to domestic workers in the Philippines, the Kasambahay Law has placed the Filipino domestic workers on equal footing with other formal sector workers as its strengthens respect, protection, and promotion of the rights and welfare of domestic workers.
It mandates provision of mandatory benefits, standard of treatment, and skills training, assessment, and certification for domestic workers. Since the start of its implementation, the DOLE has undertaken various measures to ensure compliance of concerned individuals and entities to the prescriptions of the law such as adoption of standard employment contract, pay slip, and certificate of employment; designation of Kasambahay Desk Officers in all DOLE regional and field offices who will accept and process complaints of domestic workers; continuous orientation-seminars on the Kasambahay Law and its implementing rules and regulations; and adoption of a Unified Registration System (URS) for their enrolment in, and availment of benefits from social security institutions such as the Social Security System (SSS), Pag-Ibig, and PhilHealth.
“It is also worthy to note that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other law enforcement agencies have begun the implementation of a protocol system on the rescue, rehabilitation, and community reintegration of abused domestic workers,” Baldoz explained.
In the overseas front, the labor and employment chief stated that the Philippines has been looked up by many labor sending countries for its pioneering efforts to promote decent work for migrant domestic workers. She added that the implementation of the policy reform on Household Service Workers Reform Package providing stronger protection for the migrant domestic workers and the enactment in 2009 of Republic Act No. 10022 have raised the bar of protection for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), including the HSWs.
“We have also aggressively pursued the forging of bilateral agreements with countries of destination to advance the interest and welfare of our overseas workers,” Baldoz citing citing examples of such negotiated agreements with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, and Kuwait which identified specific rights and measures to strengthen protection of OFWs.
She called on to the forum’s participants to lead the others in making decent work a reality for all domestic workers.
“We will take this challenge as duty bearers to impart the message and come up with innovative approach so that more countries will ratify ILO Convention 189, enact enabling laws, and commit to protect the rights and promote the welfare of our domestic workers,” Baldoz said in conclusion.