Geneva: On June 2nd, following interventions by 26 of the participating countries of the International Labour Conference (ILC), five NGOs, including Migrant Forum in Asia, were given the opportunity to deliver statements to the social partners. This provided representatives of international civil society with a platform to present its concerns on remaining contentious points being debated among the employers, workers, and governments as they work towards consensus.
Central to all of these statements was the need for an understanding that domestic work is real work, worthy of respect, and that domestic workers are workers, like all other workers. Provisions such as the right to collective bargaining, freedom of association, the right to privacy, the implementation of social security schemes, etc. must all be drafted with this core principle in mind.
Statements were made by the International Union of Food and Agricultural Workers, Human Rights Watch, International Christian Youth, Anti-Slavery International, and Migrant Forum in Asia.
Speaking for the MFA delegation, Ristanti, an Indonesian domestic worker employed in Singapore, spoke of the importance of a strong ILO Convention and Recommendation. “I thank my employer for giving me permission for a two-week leave so that I could be here to address you today. It is an honour to be a part of this historic moment. But as I stand here, I know that there are millions of other domestic workers who do not share that privilege.” Ristanti called upon the tripartite actors to take into consideration the following areas of concern:
- The clear need for regulation of the system of migrant domestic worker recruitment – this is a significant area of concern for Asian domestic workers;
- The necessity of freedom of association and the right to form trade unions;
- The basic need for rest and the right to a day off for all domestic workers.
MFA will continue its engagement during the meeting of the workers’ group, as they work to develop a strong position. The MFA delegation will also participate in the drafting of alternative text for the amendment of contentious articles.