Victory for Domestic Workers as Philippines Ratifies C189

In a victory for domestic workers in the Philippines and around the world who are trying to secure decent wages, benefits and recognition, the Philippines is the second country to ratify International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 189, Decent Work for Domestic Workers.

Today the Philippine Senate approved a resolution in support of ratification of ILO Convention 189 (C189) on Decent Work for Domestic Workers with 20 votes in favor and no abstentions. The convention—which addresses issues such as wages, working conditions, benefits, labor brokers and child labor—goes into force one year after two countries approve it. Uruguay ratified C189 in April of this year.

“The Solidarity Center congratulates the Philippines for this historic decision. As the convention goes into force, domestic workers will have an important international standard bolstering their fight for the protections and rights to which they are entitled but which they have long been denied,” said Neha Misra, Solidarity Center senior specialist on migration and human trafficking.

“Our partners have been striving for years for the passage of an international convention to raise the status of domestic workers and to strengthen their hand as they face exploitation and abuse. This milestone proves that people can jointly push for—and gain—better working conditions and their human rights.”

Trade unions, civil society groups and human rights organizations worldwide have advocated fiercely for ratification of C189 since the convention was passed at the ILO in June 2011. Stakeholders, including the Solidarity Center and its partners in many countries, view ratification of C189 as crucial to the achievement of decent work and social justice for all domestic workers—most of whom are women working in the informal sector. By defining domestic work as “work” deserving of full rights and benefits, the convention takes a major step forward in bringing domestic work out of the informal economy.

As a trend-setter in supporting and protecting its cross-border migrant workers in the region and because of the high numbers of Filipino workers who migrate overseas for work, the ratification of C189 by the Philippines sends a powerful signal to other governments that domestic workers deserve the same rights, legal protections and access to social safety nets as workers already included in the formal economy.

The Solidarity Center works with domestic workers and the unions that represent them around the world, including in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region of China, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, South Africa, Liberia and Kenya.