• Treaty on domestic workers takes effect

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    The Domestic Workers Convention (No. 189), a treaty that will provide basic and fair labor rights to domestic workers worldwide, including some 1.9 million Filipinos, took effect on Thursday, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said.

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    Worldwide, there are some 53 million domestic workers. This number, the ILO said, has been steadily increasing even in developed and developing countries.

    This number adds to an estimated 10.5 million children worldwide who are engaged in domestic work. About 83 percent of domestic workers are women.

    The new convention became a binding international law yesterday.

    It needed ratification by two ILO member states but was ratified by eight —Bolivia, Italy, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Paraguay, the Philippines, South Africa and Uruguay.

    The ILO said that since the convention’s adoption, several countries have passed new laws or regulations improving domestic workers’ labor and social rights, including Venezuela, Bahrain, the Philippines, Thailand, Spain and Singapore.

    Legislative reforms have also begun in Finland, Namibia, Chile and the United States, among others. Several others have initiated the process of ratification of ILO Convention 189, including Costa Rica and Germany.

    “All this shows that the momentum sparked by the ILO convention on domestic workers is growing. The convention and recommendation have effectively started to play their role as catalysts for change. They now serve as a starting point for devising new polices in a growing number of countries—recognizing the dignity and value of domestic work,” Manuela Tomei, director of the ILO’s Working Conditions and Equality Department, said.

    “Today’s entry into force of Convention 189 sends a powerful signal to more than 50 million domestic workers worldwide. I hope that it will also send a signal to ILO member-states and that we soon see more and more countries committing to protect the rights of domestic workers,” Tomei said.

    In the Philippines, there are 1.9 million workers, 2010 records showed. This is a 57 percent increase from the 1.2 million workers in 2001. These are ages 15 years old and up.

    According to the ILO country report, there are many more domestic workers who are not accounted for in that figure.

    Children below the age of 15 years old who work as housemaid or “boy” are not counted in the labor force statistics.

    Even those who are providing household services in exchange for shelter, food, education or simple daily subsistence, as well as foreign workers, are not included in the figure.

    Bernice Camille V. Bauzon

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