Date: 9 August 2012
Source: Asia-Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
Type: Press Release
“Finally, months of campaigning and lobbying by migrant organizations have paid off, and the C189 can now be used as a benchmark for protecting the rights of all dometic workers, especially those working abroad.”
This was the reaction of Ramon Bultron, Managing Director of the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), on the Philippine Senate’s recent ratification of the ILO Convention on Domestic Work (C189). Voting overwhelmingly for the Convention last August 6, the Upper House passed Senate Resolution No. 816, or the Resolution Concurring in the Ratification of Convention 189, Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers. This was approved on third reading with 20 votes, zero negative vote and zero abstention.
“This development provides all C189 campaigners with a much-needed shot in the arm, so to speak. Along with grassroots migrant organization and advocate networks such as the United for Foreign Domestic Workers Rights, APMM is determined more than ever to see this Convention ratified by the most number of countries that traffic in this type of employment,” Bultron said.
APMM’s head considers the Senate concurrence to be a sign of the increasing effectivity of migrant organizations and advocates in influencing state policies, which he said has been built up painstakingly over the years in both sending and receiving countries. “It is a testament especially to the persistence and unwavering determination of grassroots organizations such as those in Hong Kong, who launched their ratification campaign right after the Convention’s passage in Geneva last year.”
Bultron added: “Now that the Convention has virtually entered into force, the next stage is set in our advocacy campaign for C189. This is to push for its ratification in countries involved with labor migration, especially receiving ones where most violations of migrant rights occur.”
On the other hand, he also expressed apprehension about the future of C189’s implementation, given that “receiving countries have traditionally been slow in ratifying migrant conventions, if they will sign at all.” He cited the case of the UN Migrant Workers’ Convention, which took effect only 13 years after it was signed in 1990. So far, no major receiving country has signed the said convention.
He explained that under ILO rules, conventions can only enter into force twelve months after the formal ratifications of two member-governments have been registered with the ILO Director-General. “In this case, the Philippine government still needs to ‘deposit’ the ratification documents to the ILO before its adoption of the Convention can be considered as a registered one.”
Last June, the government of Uruguay became the first country to ratify C189 when it presented its documents to the annual 101st International Labour Conference in the Swiss capital. The Philippine ratification completes the required minimum of two ratifiers for the Convention to enter into effect.
While the regional migrant organization does not view the C189 as an assurance of protection for foreign domestic workers’ rights, it does see its provisions as important in advocacy work that aims to alleviate their difficult working conditions.
In relation to this, Bultron called on the Philippine government to swiftly harmonize its relevant laws and policies with those of the Convention. “This is especially urgent with regard to its unconscionable exaction of fees from OFWs, which creates ideal conditions for debt bondage and increases the suffering of foreign domestic workers and other migrants,” he said.
The APMM head also urged foreign domestic workers (FDWs) everywhere to get organized to be more effective in pushing not only for further country-ratifications of C189, but also for concrete gains in their economic welfare and political rights. “Based on the experience of the Asia Pacific migrant movement, it is only through the organized efforts of FDWs in unity with other migrants and sectors that their rights can be protected in the long term,” Bultron ended. #