For Immediate Release [Human Rights Watch Press Release, 8/6/12]
(Manila, August 6, 2012) – The Philippines’ ratification of the Domestic Workers Convention will bring the groundbreaking international treaty into legal force, promising better working conditions and key labor protections for millions of domestic workers, Human Rights Watch said today. The convention takes effect one year after the second ratification.
The Philippine Senate ratified the instrument today; President Benigno Aquino III signed it on May 18, 2012, following the treaty’s first ratification, by Uruguay, on April 30.
“The Philippines’ ratification of the Domestic Workers Convention means that basic labor rights for domestic workers are finally becoming a reality,” said Nisha Varia, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “As the treaty goes into effect, millions of women and girls will have the chance for better working conditions and better lives.”
The Domestic Workers Convention sets the first global standards for the estimated 50 to 100 million domestic workers worldwide, the vast majority of whom are women and girls. Domestic workers face a wide range of serious abuses and labor exploitation, including excessive working hours without rest, non-payment of wages, forced confinement, physical and sexual abuse, forced labor, and trafficking. Under the treaty, domestic workers are entitled to protections available to other workers, including weekly days off, limits to hours of work, and minimum wage and social security coverage. The convention also obliges governments to protect domestic workers from violence and abuse, and to prevent child labor in domestic work.
The Philippines has approximately two million domestic workers at home and millions more abroad. Remittances from Filipino migrant domestic workers, mostly women, constitute a significant source of the country’s foreign exchange. Filipinos working abroad send home over US$20 billion per year.
Migrant domestic workers are often at heightened risk of exploitation due to excessive recruitment fees, language barriers, and national policies that link workers’ immigration status to individual employers. Human Rights Watch has documented abuses against Filipino migrant domestic workers in Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Singapore, including beatings, confiscation of passports, confinement to the home, overlong working hours with no days off, and in some cases, months or years of unpaid wages.