Random ramblings from a national democrat.

Overworked, Underpaid, and Abused: The Filipino Domestic Helper and Labor Export

The International Labor Organization (ILO) in a recent 2013 report called for the need to improve the protection of domestic worker’s rights in the global scale.

For Filipino domestic workers here and abroad, safeguards for the protection of their basic economic rights such as respect to essential working conditions, paid annual leave, working time, and minimum wage coverage are still highly neglected.

The organization held that “the prediction that ‘the problem of domestic service is being gradually and slowly solved —by the working-men and women refusing to render such service’ has turned out to be false.”

The Philippines remains one of the top suppliers of domestic workers in the world, together with Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India. Poverty, lack of education, and unemployment in the country are still cited as one of the reasons as to why the country remains a top exporter of labor.

“According to administrative data, more than new 96,500 household service workers from the Philippines went to work overseas during 2010 alone,” says the ILO in their report entitled Domestic workers across the world: Global and regional statistics and the extent of legal protection.

Overworked, Underpaid, Abused

According to the report, the Filipino household service worker (HSW) on an average works for 52 hours a week, — four hours more than the 48-hour threshold. The report adds that domestic household work, compared to other sectors, is “among the longest and most unpredictable for all groups of workers.”

In furtherance of the protection  of HSWs amidst continuing cases of maltreatment, human trafficking, and sexual abuse overseas,  the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), on an article on the Manila Bulletin last year, stated that they shall use the  a new Standard Employment Contract (SEC) as guide or model for forging contracts with HSW-receiving countries.

Last year, the Philippines and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have recently agreed in signing the SEC contract to better protect the rights of HSWs, while boosting ties between the two countries.

Currently the demand for migrant Filipino domestic workers remain very high, due to their relatively higher levels of education and good command of English. They are preferred especially by elite families in the United Arab Emirates.

Legislation covering HSWs in the Philippines

Recognizing that the HSWs vulnerability here and abroad, the congress is set to pass the “Kasambaya Bill”,  on August 2013.

The law calls for the establishment  of a monthly minimum wage for HSWs and other benefits. The wage boards across the country to be implemented will be as follows:

  • P2,500 a month for those employed in the National Capital Region;
  • P2,000 a month for those employed in chartered cities and first class municipalities; and
  • P1,500 a month for those employed in other municipalities.

In ensuring the HSWs rights overseas, Ana Liza Valencia from the Philippine office of the ILO stated “kailangan mong ipakita rin na sa loob ng bansa ginagawa mo rin [ito sa luob ng bansa].” (In able to ensure the rights of HSWs working abroad, we must be able to show the world that we could do it inside the country).

Labor Export Policy

Welcoming the legislation and growing concern for HSW rights, the Aquino regime however has continued its policy on labor export, in the hopes of ensuring dollar remmitances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

A resounding question however remains — why a lack of job opportunities and education domestically in the first place? Such bears a valid question on the administration’s priority and sincerity in actually alleviating the country’s backward economy.







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This entry was posted on January 12, 2013 by .
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