ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Domestic workers get protection
By David Swartzemtruber
Asean countries such as Indonesia, Philippines and others each supply thousands of domestic workers to many countries, in and outside of Asia. In Asia, itself, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia are prime host countries for domestic workers. Many also go to countries in the Mideast, such as Saudi Arabia.
Horrors stories about the abuse of imported domestic workers frequently make the headlines. In Malaysia, for example, stories of maid abuse, unpaid wages and “slave conditions”, a new programme dubbed Helper (Hal Ehwal Pembantu Rumah) has been created to protect the well-being of Indonesian maids.
Initiated by the Saba Islamic Domestic Help Advisory (Saidha), Helper is a free program for maids to take part in.
It includes cultural training, a violence watch network and a financial system to ensure insurance protection and consistent wages.
The Philippines, which sends thousands of maids to work abroad every year, today hailed a landmark International Labour Organisation treaty giving protection to domestic workers. President Benigno Aquino's government had been one of the main proponents, foreign department spokesman Ed Malaya said
“Domestic household workers are among those most vulnerable to abuse and other risks. Having minimum standards to be observed by governments will undoubtedly lead to improvements in their situation,” Mr Malaya said.
The Geneva-based ILO passed the treaty giving protection to an estimated 52.6 million domestic workers across the world on Thursday, with the Philippines and Uruguay having already said they would ratify the accord.
The new convention would ensure domestic workers enjoyed conditions 'not less favourable' than other workers, and require governments to ensure they understood their rights, preferably through written contracts.
The document also offers domestic workers a full rest day every week, and prevents them being compelled to remain with an employer's household during their annual leave or rest days.
This is a positive step to protect workers who are taken for granted and worse in many countries.
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