The IDWN, in collaboration with the International Trade Union Confederation – Asia Pacific (ITUC AP), Global Network-Asia, and Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA), held the Asian Regional Conference, titled: “Realizing Decent Work for Domestic Workers, Towards Ratification of C189 in Asia”, on October 24-26, 2011 in Manila, the Philippines. It was participated by more than 140 participants representing 104 organizations from more than 20 countries. The ILO provided key support to the Conference financially and with technical guidance and knowledge from its representatives at the Conference.
Among the highlights of the conference is first and foremost the strong commitment from the Philippine government to ratify the C189 by next year. The Secretary of Labor of the Philippines, Sec. Baldoz when addressing the Conference participants, stated that the President of the Republic has already included the ratification of C189 in the administration’s legislative agenda for the year. Equally important is the recognition and affirmation of the advocacy for the ratification of C189 needs to be led by domestic workers themselves.
A manifesto was adopted by the Conference participants, affirming their commitment to work together and cooperate towards the ratification of C189 in many countries particularly in the Asia region:
We are more than 140 participants representing organizations from more than 20 countries and territories, including 35 national trade unions, five domestic workers’ organizations and 20 civil society organizations from the International Trade Union Confederation-Asia Pacific (ITUC-A/P), International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN), Global Network-Asia, and Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA). We convened the Asian Regional Conference on “Advocacy towards the Ratification and Implementation of ILO Convention 189 and Recommendation 201 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers” on October 24-26, 2011 in Manila, Philippines – the first ever such regional gathering since the historic 100th session of the International Labour Conference in June 2011 in Geneva. We express our appreciation for the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in making this conference possible. We are here to continue our joint efforts in ensuring decent work for domestic workers, which began in Hong Kong in 2008 and 2009, in Jakarta in 2010, in Manila after the 2010 ILC, and in Singapore before the 2011 ILC.
We came together to celebrate our victory as an alliance of trade unions, domestic workers’ organizations, migrant organizations, and civil society groups in working collaboratively and pushing for the adoption of ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers (C189) at the 100th session of the ILC. The historic adoption of this new Convention and its supplementary Recommendation 201 (R201) culminated the long struggle and sacrifice of various domestic workers’ groups, trade unions, and civil society advocates. C189 is the first international treaty that recognizes the need to protect the human and labor rights of ALL domestic workers.
However, for the Convention to come into force, it must be ratified by at least two countries as soon as possible. Despite the massive support from many countries in the world, there are countries in the Asian region that are still ambivalent and have abstained from voting in favor of the Convention. For domestic workers to reap the benefits of C189 and R201, there is an urgent imperative to convince all countries in Asia to translate their support into actual ratification and implementation of C189 and R201.
We chose to hold this conference in the Philippines because of the key role that the Philippine government, trade unions, domestic workers’ organizations and civil society groups played in pushing for the adoption of C189 and R201 at the ILC in June 2011. We hold on to the promise of the Philippine government to be one of the first countries to ratify the Convention. This will set a strong message to the other member-states of the ILO to do the same.
Now that domestic workers have a Convention, the challenge is to translate its contents into the real conditions of domestic workers. In Asia, the challenge is enormous. There are at least 23 million local and migrant domestic workers in Asia alone. In the ratification and implementation process one of the primary challenges is how to ensure that domestic workers and trade unions, not only the government, play a central role.
Thereafter, the ratification of C189 among the ILO member-countries will require the adoption or reform of national legislations to conform with C189, using R201 as guide, to ensure decent work for domestic workers across the world.
Towards these ends, and as members of this alliance, we fully support the ITUC “12 by 12” Plan of Action. We will continue to strengthen and sustain the alliance of trade unions, domestic workers, civil society and social movements. We jointly commit to support domestic workers in forming, joining and sustaining their own trade unions, organizations and networks.
We have discussed the attached plans and activities, which serve as the basis for our joint strategies and common plan of action in ensuring the immediate ratification of C189 in Asia, and its effective implementation and monitoring afterwards.
Domestic work is work!
Decent work for all workers!
Ratify and implement C189!