PH making significant strides in protecting Filipino workers

Senator Loren Legarda said that the country is making significant strides in protecting Filipino workers through relevant policies such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 189, the Maritime Labour Convention,2006, the Kasambahay Bill and the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said that the ILO Convention 189, or the Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers, will benefit the 3.4 million Filipino domestic workers in the Philippines and abroad by ensuring that, first and foremost, domestic workers, like other workers, enjoy the same mantle of basic rights, such as reasonable hours of work, weekly rest, clear information on terms and conditions of employment, and freedom of association.

“The Philippine ratification of the ILO Convention 189 was formally registered last September 5. What makes the Philippines’ ratification more important is that, as the second country to ratify the convention, it will pave the way for the Convention’s entry into force after a year,” Legarda explained.

The Senator added that another important measure that would further strengthen the protection of domestic workers in the country is the Kasambahay Bill, which has been approved already by both the Senate (Senate Bill 78) and the House of Representatives (House Bill 6144).

The proposed legislation seeks to increase the minimum wage of household helpers and require all household working arrangements between employers and helpers to be duly documented.

Meanwhile, the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 is the seafarers’ bill of rights. The right to a safe and secure workplace that complies with safety standards; right to fair terms of employment; right to decent working and living conditions on board ship; and right to health protection, medical care, welfare measures and other forms of social protection are clearly laid down as self-evident rights whose enforcement is demanded by the Convention.

The MLC, 2006 also covers basic rights such as freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; the effective abolition of child labor; and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

“We aim to provide better protection for our workers in the country and those working in other nations. We do not want them to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment and any form of abuse. Furthermore, we also want to prevent Filipinos from being victimized by syndicates whose aim is to earn at the expense of others. Thus, we are pushing for the approval of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking Act,” Legarda said.

Among the amendments to the present law are: the addition of a new section on acts that constitute attempted trafficking; the strengthening legal protection for victims in the form of custody and interim protection order; and, the establishment of a permanent secretariat within the inter-agency council for anti-trafficking.

“Trafficking today is heightened by the very processes of globalization that has facilitated our progress, like rapid information transfer and cheap travel. Thus, we need an effective legal framework if we are to achieve some degree of success. Our challenge is to harmonize our policies, build capacities of agencies, and strengthen enforcement and prosecution,” Legarda stressed.

“With the ratification of the ILO Convention 189 and the Maritime Labour Code, 2006, as well as the impending approval of the Kasambahay Bill and the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, the rights of Filipino workers will be better protected and their concerns will be better addressed,” Legarda concluded.

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