Thursday, 31 May 2012

No more migrant domestic workers from Indonesia?

Another country bans travel of domestic workers

Nepal to ban travel of maids to Arabian Gulf states
30 Mayıs, 2012 | 12:04

Nepal has banned the travel of housemaids to Saudi Arabia and other Arabian Gulf countries but could cancel the decision after an agreement on domestic worker’s rights is signed with the regional states.
The ban decision affects only female domestic workers and it follows reports about mistreatment and other abuses of Asian maids by their Arabian employers in the Gulf states, according to a report in the Saudi Arabic language daily Alriyadh.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Bangladesh, Abdullah Al Basiri, is cited as saying that citizens from the Gulf Kingdom should stop trying to recruit Nepalese maids through private hiring offices.

‘Nepal now does not allow maids to travel to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries,’ expressed Basiri, also Saudi non-resident ambassador to Nepal.
The travel ban could be lifted once an agreement is signed between Nepal and Saudi Arabia on the hiring of housemaids, it is advised that Saudis would not go to hiring offices because the ban is still in force.’

Philippines signs the convention!

 Aquino signs ILO convention to protect domestic workers' rights

MANILA, Philippines - Good news for domestic workers. President Benigno Aquino III has signed the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, while the House of Representatives passed on second reading the Kasambahay Bill or the National Domestic Workers Bill.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz told migrant rights advocates comprising the Consultative Council on OFWs that the President signed the convention that seeks to protect and promote the rights of domestic workers on May 18, or eight days following the transmittal of the ratification instrument from the foreign affairs department. On the same day, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa transmitted the treaty to Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile for the required two-thirds concurrence of the Senate.

hese pieces of information were conveyed to by Ellene Sana, executive director of the Center for Migrants Advocacy, and confirmed by Philippine Overseas Employment Administration chief Hans Cacdac.

Read more here 

Friday, 25 May 2012

Videos on MDW in Egypt, USA and Lebanon

Facing Common Struggles, Domestic Workers Mobilize Across Borders

Posted: 05/21/2012 5:19 pm

The United States isn't unique when it comes to political and social crises related to immigration. Migrants in other parts of the world face similar, sometimes much harsher struggles. Even those who are "legal" are often extremely vulnerable to economic exploitation, racial discrimination, and physical and sexual abuse. Abuse and enslavement of migrant and domestic workers from Asia and Africa has become epidemic in the Middle East.  In the wake of the suicide of an abused Ethiopian worker, Alem Dechasa-Desisa, whose story helped galvanize migrant rights campaigns, the issue has moved into the media spotlight lately:

Stories of migrants dying on the job or taking their own lives are not uncommon, underscoring how their lives can be undervalued once they're swept into a "disposable" household workforce. Migrant women in particular struggle often with abusive employers and sexual harassment.
This video is part of a grassroots anti-harassment media campaign led by women in Lebanon:

See the videos and read more here 

DW in India organise

Maids to mukhyamantri: bring us home to jobs
- Dignity at stake in Delhi, tribal girls want welfare schemes that work

New Delhi, May 23: The national capital is increasingly becoming a city of broken dreams. The bulk of its workforce in the domestic sector — maids, babysitters, cooks and washerwomen — are tribal girls mostly from Jharkhand, besides Bengal, Odisha and Assam, and none of them is happy with jobs that more often than not demean their dignity. 

At a weekly meeting of the Domestic Workers’ Forum (DWF) — a union of about 3,000 maids in the national capital region organised with help from the Catholic Church — some of these young women from Jharkhand poured their hearts out on routine humiliation. Almost all of them want to go back to school or plough fields and win back self-respect.
They also have a simple and precise suggestion for their mukhyamantriji (chief minister): create jobs back home.

The DWF has members of all faiths, but most attend church services on Sundays. The practice serves as a cover from their tormenting employers and an excuse to attend meetings, study, sing and get bare minimum healthcare. Many church-run institutions in Delhi are part of this network. St Columba’s School in central Delhi is one such rendezvous where these girls meet in the basement of an auditorium for eight hours every Sunday.

Read more here


Thursday, 17 May 2012

UAE also looking at changing FDW rights under the law:

UAE - Proposed Law to Benefit Domestic Workers - Important Opportunity to Ensure Legislation Meets International Standards

A proposed United Arab Emirates (UAE) law on domestic workers holds promise for significant improvements in addressing worker abuse, Human Rights Watch said today. While a newspaper has reported about the law, its contents have not been made public, and a number of the reported provisions raise concerns.

Human Rights Watch urged UAE authorities to review the draft law to ensure that all of its provisions adhere to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, and to make the draft public and open for comment. Human Rights Watch has documented the pervasive abuse and mistreatment in the UAE of migrant domestic workers, who work in the country without legislative labor protections.

"The promised provisions of this draft law are an important acknowledgment of the need to protect domestic workers with real laws, and not just the good will of private employers," said Nisha Varia, senior women's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. "The government should ensure that the law complies with all of its obligations to protect domestic workers, including setting maximum work hours and requiring overtime pay, and freedom of movement, particularly on days off from work."

According to a report on May 2, 2012, in a local UAE newspaper, Gulf News, which said that it had obtained a copy of the draft, the proposed law will provide domestic workers aweekly paid day off, two weeks of paid annual leave, holidays, and 15 paid sick days. Unless UAE authorities make the draft law public, it is impossible to verify the extent of protections the new law will offer or whether it incorporates all of the UAE's obligations under international human rights law, Human Rights Watch said.

Potential new rights for FDW in Thailand

New work conditions for maids, trawler crews in Thailand

The Nation/Asia News Network
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 

Thai labourers wave national flags and hold portraits of Thai King Bhumibol Adulayadej and Queen Sirikit as they gather to mark international workers' day on May 1, 2012.

THAILAND - Housemaids and crew members of fishing trawlers will have their working conditions improved if an amendment to a labour regulation bill - approved in principle by the Cabinet yesterday - is passed on.
According to many altered conditions in the bill, those working as domestic maids are entitled to a weekly one day break, and have the choice of enjoying all national holidays or being paid for them.
They will also be granted paid sick leave, and have paid vacations.

The bill stipulates no person under 15 can be hired as a domestic.
Strict working conditions enforced on Thai and immigrant crew members working on fishing trawlers are also relaxed on trawlers with fewer than 20 crew members or on trawlers which travel off Thai waters for more than a year in each trip.
Full details of these conditions have yet to be released.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Irene Fernandez in trouble with Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission:

MACC hauls up Tenaganita chief

Tarani Palani | May 9, 2012  FMT News
The Tenaganita executive director has been asked to explain her 'Malaysia is unsafe for foreign workers' comment in the Jakarta Post.


PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has hauled up Tenaganita’s executive director Irene Fernandez over an interview with the Jakarta Post.
The interview, criticising the Malaysian government for its poor treatment of foreign domestic workers, was featured prominently in all the major local dailies yesterday.
Apparently her comments which was published in the Monday edition of the Jakarta Post had not gone down well with the authorities.

At a press conference here, Fernandez said the MACC contacted her yesterday and requested her to provide more information regarding the report.
“They have asked me to come in based on the news published in the local newspapers, not based on the article in the Jakarta post,” she said, adding that she would meet them on Friday.
Asked if she was shocked that MACC contacted her over her comments, Fernandez said she was more concerned than surprised.

“I’m more concerned because the MACC should be looking into corruption (by parties) involved with (facilitating) migrant workers here, not the whistleblowers.
“It is wrong to threaten human rights defenders,” she said.

The letter which was faxed to the Tenaganita office yesterday read: “We in the MACC had recently come across in the local dailies the interview and statements made by the executive director of Tenaganita Irene Fernandez. We the MACC regard this matter quite seriously.”
In the Jakarta Post interview, Fernandez said Malaysia was unsafe for foreign workers, most of whom work as domestic workers, as the country lacked a legal framework or particular laws to protect these workers.
“Even worse, the Malaysian government upheld discrimination against housemaids and gardeners, both of whom are excluded from the newly-issued regulation on minimum wages,” she had said.
Fernandez received brickbats from many quarters particularly the government yesterday for her remarks.
Deputy Human Resources Minister Maznah Mazlan criticised the veteran activist’s remarks as being “unethical, inaccurate and unpatriotic.”
‘I am not unpatriotic’

Responding to this, Fernandez said she would only be deemed unpatriotic if she did not highlight the inherent flaws within the system.
“My statement is not unpatriotic. It will be unpatriotic of me if I allowed bad governance to continue. I have to put right where there are wrongs,” she said.
She added that her comments would not jeopardise Malaysia’s bilateral ties with its neighbours as Indonesians already had the perception that Malaysia was an unsafe place for them to work especially in certain sectors.

“Even yesterday there was a protest at the Malaysian embassy over the death of three Indonesians. People are already seeing it as an unsafe place,” she said.
She also cited the US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report which placed Malaysia as one of the countries to watch for this offence – two years in a row.
She stressed that her comments would not tarnish the country’s image as the matters brought up during the interview were for the betterment of the system.
“This is about raising the standards and human rights. What is wrong with that? We are merely trying to raise the standards,” she said.

“We speak from our experience in dealing with such matters for almost 20 years. We make these comments based on our interactions with the affected community, our expansive network form the source country (where the workers come from). Based on these experiences, we make our statement,” she added.
Fernandez reiterated that the government was arrogant in its approach to the rights of foreign workers and it needed to change this attitude.

“It is time for the government to accept the truth with humility and address the omissions and commission for the rights of these workers,” she said.
Fernandez also added that she had send some corrections to Jakarta Post for misquoting her in their article.
These concerned five statements on how employers escaped recourse for their actions and corrections to statistics involving domestic workers who were arrested by the authorities.

Tenaganita executive director Irene Fernandez speaks out

Tenaganita: Undocumented migrant workers constantly exploited in Malaysia

Tuesday May 8, 2012 The Star Online

MALAYSIA hosts approximately two million migrant workers from Indonesia who work mostly as domestic workers and labourers in the agriculture sector. A large number of these workers face problems because they are undocumented. Rights activist Tenaganita executive director Irene Fernandez (pic) has been working to provide legal assistance to Indonesian illegal migrant workers. The Jakarta Post's Ridwan Max Sijabat spoke with her at her office in Kuala Lumpur about their plight.
Excerpts of the interview:
Q: Do you find Malaysia safe for Indonesian migrant workers?
A: Completely not.

Q: Why?
A: Malaysia has no legal framework or a particular law to protect workers. Even worse, the Malaysian Government has upheld discrimination against housemaids and plantation workers, both of whom are excluded from the newly-issued regulation on minimum wages. Migrant workers have been objects of exploitation, physical abuse, violence and rape in line with the emergence of caregiving industries and the privatisation of healthcare, which are part of the neo-liberal capitalism which has damaged Malaysia's economic system and raised inequalities among migrant workers, mostly women.
Too many migrant workers have become undocumented and developed troubles with authorities since their passports are withheld by their employers or sponsors. The Indonesian government should not resume sending workers to Malaysia until the government and employers change their mindsets and make a particular law to protect them and their rights


Draft law for MDW in Abu Dhabi/Dubai

Residents, employers welcome more rights for domestic workers 

By Janice Ponce de Leon, Staff Reporter
Published: 00:00 May 4, 2012 Gulf News

 Abu Dhabi/Dubai: A new draft law which aims to ensure decent working and living conditions for domestic workers, was well received by various segments of society across the country, with workers specifically hoping it could help lessen maltreatment and absconding cases among housemaids.
Approved by the Cabinet in January, the bill will take effect once it passes the Federal National Council and is signed into law by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. 

With the new law, domestic helpers will be entitled to an end-of-service gratuity, at least one weekly day off, and a written contract of employment. Employers will also have to pay the recruitment agency fees and pay the maids' salaries in cash at least once a month.
"Once they implement this law, I think the number of housemaids who abscond from their employers will lessen," Lanie Sanchez, a Filipino housemaid who is the vice president of an organisation of domestic helpers in Dubai, told Gulf News. 

"Most housemaids who run away from their bosses usually complain of maltreatment or non-payment of salaries. Others complain of no day off. With these covered under the new law, I think these problems will lessen," Sanchez added.
Helen, an Ethiopian housemaid who absconded from her employers last year, agreed.