DAMAYAN Celebrates the Philippines’ Ratification of Convention on Domestic Workers

For immediate release - August 6, 2012
CONTACT: DAMAYAN Campaign Coordinator, Leah Obias. Email: leah@damayanmigrants.org. Phone: (212) 564-6057

New York, NY—Today Filipino migrant domestic workers of DAMAYAN Migrant Workers Association in NY/NJ celebrate, with cautious optimism, the Philippines’ ratification of the International Labor Organization Domestic Workers Convention, announced this morning.

The Philippine Senate ratified the instrument today, making the Philippines the second country internationally to do so. President Benigno Aquino III signed it on May 18, 2012.

“We celebrate the Philippines’ ratification and will continue to campaign for all countries to ratify,” says Enecita Brodsky, Chairperson of DAMAYAN. “Domestic workers all over the world deserve the protection and the rights accorded to other workers.”

The international treaty protects domestic workers, ensures basic labor rights and includes specific provisions to address labor trafficking and domestic servitude. It sets an international standard and signifies a big step forward in recognizing the value of this labor force.

In its ten year existence, DAMAYAN has witnessed grave abuses of Filipino women domestic workers, supporting and organizing migrant domestic workers who have endured a range of abuse, including low wages, long hours, verbal and physical abuse, lack of healthcare, lack of sick days or days off, trafficking and forced labor, especially inside the homes of diplomats with immunity. As Board members of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, a United States-based alliance of over 35 domestic worker organizations around the country, DAMAYAN supported the international campaign for the ILO Convention, adopted in June 2011.

However, according to DAMAYAN, its passion for women migrant workers’ justice has not been matched by the Philippines consulates and embassies in New York and elsewhere, which should be providing help and protection to the migrant Filipino workers.

“We endorse this ratification and are hopeful that it signifies an actual change in the Phil. Government’s stance towards domestic workers, many of whom are overseas migrant workers,” says Linda Oalican, DAMAYAN’s Overall Coordinator. “At the same time, we are still seeing the implementation of the Labor Export Program, which continues to force women abroad and into the vulnerable domestic work industry and trafficking situations abroad. We hope that the Philippine President will end the large scale mining of foreign corporations in our country, put our government in control of our natural resources to create jobs, and stop forced migration.”

Concludes Brodsky, “As historic as this day is for our campaign effort, we at DAMAYAN will keep a vigilant eye that the convention will be implemented.”

DAMAYAN encourages the Philippine Consulate in New York to implement tools provided by this important international treaty and looks forward to working with them to ensure that Filipino migrant domestic workers in the area benefit from this historic ratification.