Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chairperson of GABRIELA-USA
Today, the International Labor Organization (ILO) adopted a historic convention that outlines comprehensive labor standards for domestic workers across the globe. The Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers is much needed and long overdue, as domestic workers comprise one of the most vulnerable groups of laborers in the world. Numbering more than 100 million, and consisting mostly of women from impoverished countries, domestic workers are routinely subject to abuse, wage theft and exploitation. Tragically, much of this happens under the radar, as domestic work has historically remained unregulated.
GABRIELA USA celebrates the ILO’s adoption of this important convention, in sober recognition of the fact that Filipinas make up a large proportion of the world’s domestic workforce at an estimated 5 million women. Though the labor of Filipinas continues to be a signature Philippine export via the Labor Export Program, the Philippine government provides no protections for these women — even as the Philippine economy has grown increasingly dependent on remittances from overseas workers. Given this context, the creation of international labor standards and the support of the international community are crucial to the wellbeing of Filipina domestic workers worldwide.
But even with the adoption of this convention, it is important that we continue to organize for domestic worker’s rights in our own communities. One year ago, collective efforts to advance domestic worker’s rights in New York culminated in the passage of the New York Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights — legislation that gave new rights to domestic workers, including the right to overtime pay, protection from harassment and paid leave. Now we are fighting for the same rights and benefits on the West Coast, as the California state legislature considers the passage of its own Domestic Worker Bill of Rights. The bill was recently approved by the California Assembly on June 2nd, and is now currently waiting to be passed in Senate.
The ILO convention is an important step forward for domestic workers, but it is also a reminder that our work is far from over. The voice and power of domestic workers can only be harnessed through organizing the workers themselves, along with advocates and supporters. Once these international labor standards are in place, it will be up to us to ensure that they are implemented within our own communities, for the benefit of domestic workers both here and abroad.