NAFCON Celebrates Historic Passage of Int’l Standards for Domestic Workers by UN ILO
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
23 June 2011
The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON-US) celebrates the historic adoption of the Convention on Domestic Workers (2011) by United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO). This set of international standards aimed at improving the working conditions of tens of millions of domestic workers worldwide was adopted by ILO, the only agency of the UN that brings together representatives of governments, employers and workers on June 16th.
“The adoption of the Convention on Domestic Workers is of particular importance to the Filipino community because there are over 30,000 Filipinas and Filipino men employed as domestic and home care workers in the United States. Many of them receive low wages and lack benefits. They are also expected to work long hours, perform and complete unreasonable range of tasks, and are subject to physical and emotional abuse by their employers. For too long they have not been recognized as real workers which made them prone to abuses and exploitation by their employers.” stated Fr. Ben Alforque, President of NAFCON.
As a result of the new ILO standards an estimated 53 to 100 million domestic workers worldwide (Filipinos and non-Filipinos) are now entitled to have the same basic labor rights as other workers. This would mean “reasonable hours of work, weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours, a limit on in-kind payment, clear information on terms and conditions of employment, as well as respect for fundamental principles and rights at work including among others freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining,” as stated by the ILO.
“With the new standards adopted by the ILO, we hope the work conditions domestic workers face will improve but there are more steps to take and more struggles to face. We do not expect for these standards to be enacted immediately. Education should follow. The domestic workers — even if their nature of work is mostly isolated — must come together, must organize, must know their rights and continue to learn to fight for them,” continued Fr. Alforque.
Ultimately, for the Filipino community, NAFCON identifies the Philippine government’s Labor Export Policy (LEP) — the selling of our people’s cheap labor to other countries – as a deeper issue behind the suffering of Filipino migrants. Thus NAFCON continues to demand that national industries be built and genuine agrarian reform be implemented by the Philippine government to generate jobs at home so there will be no need to export our people abroad. “As long as there is LEP, our domestic workers, and all Filipino migrant workers in general, even with existing international labor standards, will still be at risk of getting exploited by foreign, and sadly, sometimes fellow Filipino, employers. With that said, we, from NAFCON, amidst all celebrations, continue to say NO to LEP,” ended Fr. Alforque.
This coming July 3-5, member organizations of NAFCON will be sending delegates to the Second International Assembly of the International Migrants’ Alliance (IMA 2) in Manila, Philippines to join other grassroots organizations all over the world in defending the rights and welfare of migrants. Later this year, on October 21-22, NAFCON will be having its General Assembly and is expected to tackle more about Filipino workers’ issues and concerns in the U.S. In both assemblies, resolutions are expected to be passed regarding the Convention on Domestic Workers. IMA-US will also be launched on October 23 which hopes to adopt further unities regarding the ILO standards on domestic workers.###
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The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns [NAFCON] is a national multi-issue alliance of Filipino organizations and individuals in the United States serving to protect the rights and welfare of Filipinos by fighting for social, economic, and racial justice and equality. It was launched in San Jose California in 2003. At present, NAFCON members encompass over 23 cities in the United States.