Call to ratify ILO Domestic Workers’ Convention | Daily News


 

Call to ratify ILO Domestic Workers’ Convention

A panel discussion of parliamentarians from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal with Ellene Sana, MFA (Philippines).
A panel discussion of parliamentarians from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal with Ellene Sana, MFA (Philippines).

Parliamentarians, Civil Society members and the Media from several Asian countries including Sri Lanka gathered in Dhaka, Bangladesh last week to support and discuss the path towards ratifying the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 189 a landmark treaty for the world’s “invisible workforce”, the domestic workers.

The gathering included representatives from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Philippines and the ILO. It was organized by the Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) with the support of the Parliamentarians Caucus on Migration and Development in Bangladesh.

This is the 189th ILO convention and was adopted during the 100th session of the International Labour Organization. It came into force on September 5, 2013.

The Convention will ensure the provision of the same basic labour rights to workers who care for families and households as those available to other workers.

This includes a minimum wage, clear terms and conditions of employment, daily and weekly (at least 24-hours) rest time, restrictions on in-kind payments, and respect for the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Both the migrant and domestic workers come under this convention.

According to the ILO, there are currently 164 million migrant workers, of which nearly 8 percent of them are domestic workers. Around 74 percent of all migrant domestic workers are women, worldwide.

According to the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE), around 1.7 million Sri Lankans are working abroad of which 62 percent are men and 38 percent are women. Of the women 42 percent have migrated as domestic workers. However, statistics regarding local domestic workers are unclear. Twenty nine countries have already ratified the ILO C189, but from Asia only the Philippines has ratified it so far.

Mrs.Yamuna Perera, the Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations, explaining Sri Lanka’s current position in relation to ratifying C189 stated that the country was putting the final touches to the laws and regulations which will come under the C189.

“We are currently working on two important legislative reforms including amendments to the SLBFE Act. As soon as this is finalized the final document will be presented to the Cabinet of Ministers for approval. I think if everything goes according to plan we can ratify the ILO C189 within the next six months”.

If all goes according to plan Sri Lanka may well become the first country in South Asia to ratify the ILO C189 with all the new laws and regulations in place.

Parliamentarian Sujith Perera noted that all Sri Lanka Parliamentarians should support this worthy initiative.

He pointed out that Sri Lanka has passed new laws or regulations improving domestic workers’ labour and social rights, over the years. Meanwhile, Ms.Ellene Sana, MFA (Philippines) spoke at length about her country’s efforts to ratify C189. She said that her country had ratified the convention even while in the process of formulating necessary legislation as it was a highly important treaty for Philippines as the country has a high number of migrant domestic workers.

Ms. Suraia Banu from the ILO said effective implementation of the convention could minimise the exploitation and ensure decent work for domestic workers, both at home and abroad. Sujeewa Dahanayake, Attorney at Law and National Coordinator of Lawyers Beyond Borders (Sri Lanka) stated that not only C189 but supporting the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) endorsed by the UN member states in 2018 too was important in protecting the rights of migrant domestic workers. He pointed out that the GCM sets out a common, comprehensive approach to international migration and it aims at cooperation between states and promotes measures to strengthen regular migration pathways, to tackle irregular migration, and to protect human rights of migrants among other objectives. The Chair of the Caucus, Bangladesh Parliamentarian Israfil Alam and several other Bangladeshi Parliamentarians addressed the gathering. Nepali MP Ms.Ram Kumari too was among the speakers.

The Sri Lankan delegation to the event also included Parliamentarian J.C.Alawathuwala and Attorney at Law Namal Tillakaratne Secretary of Action Network for Migrant Workers.


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