Sunday, 12 June 2011

Update No. 5 - 100th ILC - Geneva, Switzerland

DOMESTIC WORKERS' RIGHTS RECOGNIZED!
Adoption of the Convention on Decent Work for Domestic workers supported by Recommendation.
June 10, 2011

The deliberations for the Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers supported by Recommendation ended today with the adoption of Recommendation 1-23 at 12.15pm on 10 June 2011. Art 1-19 of the Convention was adopted at 9.15pm on 7 June 2011.

The length and intensity of discussions for the articles of the Convention is evident from the time taken, 1-7 June 2011 with sessions running late into the nights at 9.30pm and on one occasion at 10.00pm. The deliberation for the Recommendation took 3 days from 8-10 June 2011.

Most noted were the impressive attendances of the workers’ and civil society groups for all the sessions. When some employers and government officials opted to leave early during sessions, the workers’ and civil society groups soldiered on knowing that other civil society groups and domestic workers worldwide were keeping us in their thoughts and prayers.

Hans Cacdac (Deputy Minister of Labour, Philippines) Chairperson of the Domestic Workers Committee was at his element as he steered the discussions to bridge gaps that threatened to derail the process. His occasional witty remarks drew spontaneous laughter from House to lighten the intense mood.

Equally impressive were Halimah Yaacob, Vice Chairperson of the Workers' Group and Paul Mackay, Vice Chairperson for the Employers’ Group who exuded confidence in delivery of their statements. Their knowledge in the subject matter was evident!

During the opening statements, 23 governments and employers’ group showed tremendous support for a flexible yet principle based Convention which would be easily rectifiable and adopted at the national level.

With this is mind, the deliberations began!

Triumph moments of the workers’ group

After much debate, the workers’ group succeeded in strengthening domestic workers’ rights to collective bargaining and freedom of association contained in Art 3 of the Convention.

Another lengthy debate ensued on Art 6 where some governments attempted to dilute the right of the domestic worker to be informed of the terms and conditions in the employment contract. The workers’ group stood its ground with sound reasoning to sustain this right.

As expected there were lengthy debates on the hours of work and daily and weekly rest. Consensus was reached in Art 10 for a 24 consecutive rest hour on the EU governments’ proposal for weekly day offs to be accumulated after 2 weeks.

Although the Recommendation is not binding, the intense debate was maintained for the deliberations on Recommendation 1-23. Amongst others, the confidentiality of medical testing was maintained.

Young domestic workers below the age of 18 took centre stage as some governments attempted to weaken protection for this group. Again we triumphed!

History created!

As Hans Leo Cacdac brought his gavel down at 12.15 pm on 10 June 2011 announcing the adoption of the recommendation in its entirety, history was created! It marks a milestone for all civil society groups as we embrace domestic workers, one of the world’s most vulnerable workers of modern society, into the formal sector.

(NB: Voting for the Convention supplemented by a Recommendation will take place on 16 June 2011.)


Report by Mohammad Harun Rashid, Regional Coordinator for CARAM Asia, a regional network working on migration and health issues including of migrant domestic workers. CARAM Asia is a member of the UFDWR and of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA).

Video clip courtesy of Eman C. Villanueva, Vice Chairman for Filipino Migrant Workers' Union (FMWU) in Hong Kong and representative of UFDWR and the Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body (AMCB) to the 100th Session of ILC in Geneva, Switzerland.

The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) members attending the ILC are FMWU-AMCB, Migrante Canada members (Migrante BC and PINAY, Quebec), Tenaganita and CARAM Asia.

video

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