JAKARTA (ILO News): Domestic work is considered undervalued and poorly regulated, and many domestic workers remain overworked, underpaid and unprotected. Accounts of maltreatment and abuse, especially of live-in and migrant domestic workers, are regularly reported in the media. In addition, in many countries, domestic work is largely performed by child labourers.
Domestic workers also represent the single largest group of female salaried workers toiling away in households of others in their own country or abroad. Despite of the importance of the role of domestic workers, domestic work is still not recognized as work. Since their work is done in private households, which are not considered work places in many countries, their employment relationship is not addressed in national labour laws or other legislation, denying them recognition as workers entitled to labour protection.
According to an ILO study in 2004, there were an estimated 2,593,399 domestic workers in Indonesia; of these, 1.4 million domestic workers were estimated to work in Java alone. The great majority of domestic workers are female with low educational levels; they mainly come from poor families in rural communities. Seen as informal sector work, the government’s current interpretation of national labour law excludes domestic workers from its coverage. So far, very few Asian countries, such as the Philippines and Hong Kong, have extended the coverage of national labour standards to domestic workers.
As an effort to provide better protection and recognition to domestic workers, in particular Indonesian domestic workers, the International Labour Organization (ILO) will organize a one-day national stakeholder consultation on international standards-setting for Indonesian domestic workers on Wednesday, 29 July 2009, at Borobudur Hotel, Jakarta. The forum will be officially opened by Minister of Manpower and Transmigration, H.E. Erman Suparno, State Minister for Women’s Development, H.E. Meutia Hatta, President of Indonesian Employers’ Association (Apindo), Sofjan Wanandi, President of KSBSI, Rekson Silaban, and Director of the ILO in Indonesia, Alan Boulton.
The main issues that are covered by the consultation include the overview of international and national level activities on standards-setting for domestic workers, status of work conditions and protections for Indonesian domestic workers, and positions of the tripartite constituents on this issue.
The consultation is conducted following up the issuance of the ILO’s Law and Practices Report titled “Decent Work for Domestic Work” in April 2009, proposing the setting of labour standards for domestic work. The purpose of the report is to facilitate the discussion of domestic work at the 99th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in 2010. The report reviews the coverage of domestic workers under existing international labour standards and examines the extent as well as nature of the inclusion of domestic workers in laws relating to basic conditions of employment, including the formalization of the contract of employment, remuneration, working hours and the live-in relationship.
“The ILO has long expressed the need for specific attention to domestic workers. The ILC has regularly called for standard-setting for domestic workers from 1936 onwards. It is time for all of us to recognize domestic work as work. Thus, this consultation promotes a wider national debate on the existing work conditions of and labour protections for domestic workers,” said Alan Boulton, the ILO’s Director.
Mr Boulton added that the consultation enables tripartite constituents to engage a wider group of stakeholders in, not only in the international standards-setting process, but also in national initiatives to strengthen labour rights and protection measures for domestic workers. “The consultation furthermore provides a medium for dialogue to point key recommendations for the standard-setting process and to promote better cooperation as well as coordination among relevant stakeholders,” he said.
Similar consultations at the national and regional level are taking place in these days all over the world. These activities will lead up to next year’s International Labour Conference in Geneva in June 2010 which will be instrumental in the process of developing an international instrument for domestic workers’ labour protections.
The national consultation on international standards-setting for domestic workers in Jakarta is conducted by the ILO under its Project on Combating Forced Labour and Trafficking of Indonesian Migrant Workers. Funded by the Norwegian Government, the Project has been active in supporting activities to raise awareness and advocate for strengthened policies and legislation for domestic workers and in assisting Indonesia to provide comprehensive feedbacks to the development of the standards-setting on domestic work.
For further information please contact:
Chief Technical Advisor of the ILO’s Migrant Workers Project
Tel. +6221 3913112
Albert Y. Bonasahat
ILO’s Programme Coordinator
Tel. +6221 3913112 ext. 125
Tel. +6221 3913112 ext. 115