By Samuel Medenilla
Bangkok, Thailand — The International Labor Organization (ILO) is set to review next year the progress in the implementation of the newly signed consensus of the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to boost the protection of its migrant workers.
Nilim Baruah, ILO Senior Migration Specialist, said the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers will be among the main issues to be discussed at the 11th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labor (AFML) in the last quarter of 2018.
Baruah said they will assess if the new Consensus has already complied with the provisions of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers in Cebu in 2007.
“Once every two years, we do a review and look at the progress (of implementation) of the ASEAN Cebu declaration,” Baruah said in an interview.
He said they hope the Consensus will generate “common standards on the protection of migrant workers” in ASEAN.
“It (Consensus) is a non-binding document so its real resolve will be in the action plan that will be adopted,” Baruah said. The Consensus was signed during the 31st ASEAN Summit chaired and hosted by Philippines earlier this month.
The AFML is an annual joint initiative of the ILO and ASEAN Secretariat to consult tripartite stakeholders about migration issues.
In the 10th AFML hosted by the Philippines, ILO reported major progress in terms of the ASEAN’s recognition of rights of migrant labor, particularly household service workers (HSW).
“This was the first time the AFML discussed a specific sector of employment, and from the ILO’s side, we are very pleased that the discussion was on domestic workers,” said Anna Engblom, ILO senior program manager.
Engblom said that several ASEAN states are now following the example of Philippines in providing better protection for HSWs.
Philippines is currently the only country in ASEAN to have ratified ILO Convention 189 or the Domestic Workers Convention and passed the necessary law for its implementation.
“Some other ASEAN countries such as Indonesia are looking into ratifying the convention (189). Countries such as Singapore and Thailand have introduced new regulations since the Convention came into force. Some of the provisions of these regulations are inspired and in line with the Convention,” she added.
ILO estimated there are currently around 10 million migrant HSWs in the Southeast Asia.