Thursday, 23 February 2012

Court case this week on right to abode

Protesters hold banners against the ruling allowing domestic workers to apply for residency
Residents have voiced their concerns about allowing foreign domestic workers to apply for residency

Filipina Teresita Herrera Blanco has worked in Hong Kong for more than 16 years, cooking, cleaning and babysitting as a domestic helper for a local family.

She says her employers treat her well but should they decide they no longer need her, she would have just two weeks to find another job or she must return to the Philippines.

Unlike Hong Kong's expatriate bankers, lawyers and teachers, who can apply for permanent residency after seven years, maids aren't eligible to apply for the right of abode, no matter how long they have worked in the city.

However, a high-profile case being heard by Hong Kong's courts this week could result in Ms Blanco, and tens of thousands like her, being able to settle here.

But this prospect is causing a public outcry in Hong Kong and illustrates the struggle foreign domestic workers throughout Asia face as they strive for better working conditions.

"I love my country," Ms Blanco tells BBC News on her one day off a week. "But it could be a good opportunity."

Read more here

Still no protections or ratification

Indonesia's Maids Mark Another Year in Legal Limbo
Anita Rachman | February 16, 2012 / Jakarta Globe

Indonesian domestic workers are rallying for the passage of a domestic workers protection bill and for the government to ratify the International Labor Organization Domestic Workers Convention. (Reuters File Photo) Indonesian domestic workers are rallying for the passage of a domestic workers protection bill and for the government to ratify the International Labor Organization Domestic Workers Convention. (Reuters File Photo)

As they commemorated their day on Wednesday, Indonesian domestic workers said they only wanted two things: for the domestic workers protection bill to be deliberated this year and the government to ratify the International Labor Organization Domestic Workers Convention.

Hundreds of domestic workers marched on Wednesday, which was National Domestic Workers Day, in the streets of Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, Semarang and Yogyakarta to vocalize these demands.

Domestic workers have long been fighting for those two actions that they say are needed to protect the estimated 10.7 million maids around the country, more than the six million migrant workers abroad who receive more attention.

A study by the National Network for Domestic Workers Advocacy (Jala PRT) in 10 cities showed that maids suffered from poor treatment, received low pay and few days off and were generally overworked, often working more than 16 hours a day.

In Jakarta, Jala PRT chairwoman Lita Anggraini, along with dozens of domestic workers, rallied in front of the Presidential Palace.

Read more here

Tuesday, 21 February 2012



The mass arrests & detention of migrants, refugees and stateless persons in Malaysia has begun.

4 million Malaysians have been mobilized to seek out, arrest, detain and deport any migrant found to be undocumented in Malaysia. Out of this, 2.8 million are ordinary citizens with no proper training (RELA Volunteer Corp), while the remaining 1 million are Immigration officers, police, the military and other enforcement agencies.


  • Detention and deportation of refugees, stateless persons, trafficked victims & other vulnerable populations
  • Use of violence by enforcement officers during raids, arrests & detention
  • Violation of rights during arrests & detention : i.e. no access to lawyers, phone call to family, deprivation of basic needs, etc

In order to monitor and respond to this crackdown, several hotline numbers have been set up:

  1. Tenaganita (temporary hotline) :

· +6-012-339 5350

· +6-012-335 0512

  • MSRI (hotline for refugees & asylum seekers): +6-012-6628483
  • SUARAM: +6-03-7784 3525

Please send information about raids, rights violations during this crackdown or any other relevant information to: raidwatch[at]

Media contact: Irene Fernandez (Tenaganita):

  • irene.f[at]
  • +6-012-316 3011


The arrest, detention & deportation of undocumented migrants is the final phase of the Malaysian government’s Illegal Immigrant Comprehensive Settlement Programme (6P Programme, “6P”) In spite of the Secretary-General of the Home Ministry, Tan Sri Mahmood Adam’s declaration that the deadline for the 6P has been extended to April 10 2012, we have already started receiving reports of arrests and detention.

On 11th of February, we were informed by refugees and members of the public that a raid was conducted in Kuala Lumpur, during which between 100 to 200 migrants and refugees were detained. We are aware that some refugees were taken to detention centres, while the whereabouts of others are currently unknown.

In previous Immigration crackdowns (2005 ; 2008) there was high use of violence against the migrants, migrants were not granted access to a phone call, or to lawyers ; we fear that similar (if not worse) rights violations will also take place during this crackdown.

We are also especially concerned for the lives of refugees & stateless persons (who remain ‘illegal’ under Malaysian law) and for victims of trafficking who will be arrested, detained and run the risk of deportation during this crackdown. We are not aware of any processes in place to protect these populations, and the refugees who are still in detention after being arrested on the 11th is a reminder of these real threats.

In order to protect the rights and lives of migrants and refugees, we call on all parties to be vigilant and assist us in monitoring and responding to this crackdown.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Lawsuit fails

Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Indonesian Govt for Failing to Protect Migrant Workers
Agus Triyono
| February 07, 2012
Migrant rights activists have accused President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of not doing enough to protect overseas workers. (Antara Photo) Migrant rights activists have accused President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of not doing enough to protect overseas workers. (Antara Photo)

The Central Jakarta District Court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by domestic workers’ rights activists against the government for failing to protect the country’s maids at home and abroad.

In his ruling on Tuesday, Judge Herdin Agustin said the suit failed to prove that the government had not done its utmost to protect domestic workers, despite not yet ratifying the 1990 UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Restaria Hutabarat, a lawyer for the group filing the suit, said her camp was disappointed with the ruling.

read more here

Demands by migrants - not just domestic workers

Seeking Safeguards for Unskilled Workers Abroad
FEBRUARY 6, 2012

With millions working abroad as overseas domestic workers, countries are calling for laws to protect their citizens from abuse. The WSJ's Deborah Kan talks to Eric Bellman.

JAKARTA—Indonesia, the Philippines and other developing countries are demanding more rights and higher wages world-wide for their legions of unskilled laborers—a trend that could shake up global labor markets.

The most recent battles have centered on maids, whose ranks have swelled in recent years in rich nations in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere. The fight has implications beyond house cleaners and nannies. Advocates are hoping the push for more rights for domestic servants will spread to other unskilled migrants, as some countries grow increasingly reliant on imported cheap labor to baby-sit for their children, staff their factories and build their skyscrapers.

Read more here

Interview with Malaysian Trade Union

Spotlight Interview With Pari Moses (Malaysia – MTUC)

"Working with placement agencies opens up new perspectives"

Brussels, 8 February 2012 (ITUC OnLine): The vast majority of domestic workers in Malaysia are migrants, mainly from Indonesia. The MTUC (1) is running a project aimed at preventing the abuses and exploitation they often face. Interview with project officer Pari Moses.

How is the MTUC coming to the aid of domestic workers?

The MTUC project for domestic workers is devoting a great deal of energy to helping domestic workers strengthen their capabilities in terms of advocacy, awareness raising, securing representation before the authorities, and establishing mechanisms to coordinate with embassies and civil society organisations. We also inform domestic workers about their rights. In October 2010, for example, we held a workshop bringing together 45 Indonesian domestic workers who had been given a day off during a Muslim festival. We used role play and dialogues to educate them about their rights, about the do's and don'ts in Malaysia, and how to handle problems they may have with an employer, etc. Two months later, we brought together another 35 Indonesian domestic workers, but this time the meeting was held on the premises of a placement agency and was also attended by their employers, the labour attaché from the Indonesian embassy and five other embassy officials. There were many exchanges between the different groups. The domestic workers were really eager to meet the labour attaché from their embassy and asked him countless questions; he was also happy to be able to talk to them and to their employers. We want to expand on this type of education and training in the future.

Read more here

Monday, 6 February 2012

Using social media for domestic worker protection

Overseas workers urged: Fight trafficking thru social media

Monday, January 30, 2012 Sun Star

A FORMER domestic helper and migrant worker advocate in Davao City urged overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are working in safe environments to unite in a fight against human trafficking through social media.

Myrna Padilla said OFWs, who are in the position to help, should connect with each other via social media to provide a network capable of assisting the most vulnerable among the OFW communities.

Padilla developed the recently launched social media website called after seeing the need to help the government protect migrant workers, especially those who are abused by their employers, victims of human trafficking and other distressed OFWs.

“Although many of our OFWs are working in safe environments, the horror stories of abuse are an almost daily occurrence with the impact hitting the most vulnerable sector of the OFW population made up of unskilled women workers,” she said.

Read more here


Egypt makes some moves towards recognising domestic work - long way to go

Migrant workers receive some protections, call for more, in Egypt

PRI's The World

Indonesians, who were evacuated from Egypt, arrive at the airport in Jakarta in February 2011. Indonesians make up a large share of Egypt's domestic workers and have been subject to abuse for years. (Photo by Supri Supri/Reuters.)

In the wake of Egypt's revolution, domestic workers who once enjoyed absolutely no legal protections are now protected by laws against human trafficking, and some are benefitting. But it will be some time more until they enjoy the sorts of wage and other protections activists say they deserve.

Read more here

Deal between Philippines and Saudi Arabia

Saudi lifts ban on Pinoy maids, sets minimum salary of $400/month

January 26, 2012 5:00pm GMA News
Giving in to the demands of the Philippine government to protect the rights of domestic workers, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has lifted a one-year ban on the hiring of domestic servants from the Philippines.

According to a report of Emirates 24/7, the Philippines and Saudi signed an accord in Manila last week setting the monthly salary of Filipino helpers in Saudi Arabia at a minimum SR1,500 ($400).

The agreement states that Filipino domestic workers will be entitled to the following:

  • a weekly day off;
  • an annual holiday of at least 30 days;
  • right to keep their passports during their stay in the Gulf Kingdom, and
  • a free ticket to their home country every year.
The agreement likewise stipulates that employers must:
  • bear all fees related to visa, residence, arrival and departure;
  • treat their maids nicely, and
  • avoid forcing them to work at another house.

Quoting the Saudi daily Alhayat, the report said: “Under the agreement, the employer must also open a bank account for the housemaid to transfer her salary to the bank at the end of every month…the employer is also bound to provide the maid with decent housing and food or an allowance for the two.”

Deal between India and Oman

Indian Embassy at work to protect household workers
Mrudu Naik
Sat Jan 28 2012

India’s pride: The Indian ambassador JS Mukul unfurled the national flag and read out the address of President of India Pratibha Devisingh Patil at the Embassy of India premises.

MUSCAT: J.S. Mukul, the Indian ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman has informed that several new provisions in the service agreements for household workers from India have been introduced in order to protect their interests.

In an interview with Times of Oman the ambassador said, “These include minimum salary of sponsor should be RO1,000 per month and provision of bank guarantee of RO1,100. The minimum age for female domestic servant has been fixed as 30 years; insurance policy with return airfare to India and provision of a pre-paid mobile phone has been made mandatory.

“For our workers, the mission has introduced compulsory prior attestation of service contracts giving comprehensive information about the would-be employer, proposed salary structure and other terms and conditions of service. The service agreement also ensures that the contracts comply with the minimum wages approved.”

Read more here