Easing the Pain

Grant Goodman, Migration Advocacy Intern
July 11, 2012

Grant Goodman

On June 12 2012,  the International Labor Organization (ILO) celebrated the first anniversary of the ILO Convention 189 (C189) on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. The ILO now calls on member states to ratify and implement C189 as a sign of their commitment to labor rights. Currently, only Uruguay has ratified C189 thus far and the Philippines have committed to ratify it. However, if all member states were to do so, it would benefit over 100 million domestic workers.

The following is a list of key calls to action are part of a larger statement of solidarity that has been endorsed by over 50 labor organizations worldwide.  The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach as well as other Columban ministries around the world have also supported this statement.

•    Governments to ratify C189 and follow through on their ethical and legal obligations to extend to both local and migrant domestic workers the same rights as those of other workers.
•    Governments are urged to provide an enabling environment that will facilitate respect for rights, provide ample protection and promote holistic development of domestic workers.
•    Recruiters to stop the exploitation of migrant domestic workers through collection of exorbitant recruitment fees which lead domestic workers into forced labor and debt bondage.
•    Trade unions and labour rights advocates to show their concrete support by assisting domestic workers  to exercise their right to association and to join or form a trade union
•    Religious groups to take an active role in promoting public consciousness with respect to
the culture of inequalities and stereotypes that work against domestic workers particularly women domestic workers.
•    Religious groups to continue with their role of providing refuge and comfort for domestic workers who have been exploited and abused.

Columban missionaries have worked in many countries to ease the pain of the often abused domestic and workers. In Taiwan, the Hope Workers’ Center provides services for individuals who have been abused by employers. This includes providing legal services in order to ensure overtime payments and fair wages. Also, the center lobbies in government for more stringent regulation of the factories migrant workers.

The Catholic Church decidedly believes in the rights of the laborer and the migrant. Pope John Paul II stated that, “The migrant is to be considered not merely as an instrument of production, but as a subject endowed with full human dignity.” Throughout Catholic Social Teaching workers’ rights and migrant rights are also prevalent, even dating back to 1931 when Pope Pius XI stated, “In the first place, the worker must be paid a wage sufficient to support him and his family.”