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Labor groups, domestic workers hail legislators’ okay of landmark bill for domestic workers
November 21, 2012

Labor groups, domestic workers and civil society groups hailed the decision of the leadership of the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives to approve a Consolidated version of the Domestic Workers Act of 2012, more popularly known as the Batas Kasambahay last November 19.  The Consolidated version is expected to be approved by both Houses on Monday, November 26.

“Trade unionists welcome with elation this historic legislation,” said Sonny Matula, president of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW).  “This is a milestone for the workers movement. After 15 years of lobbying, our domestic workers could fully enjoy their rights as that with other workers and their invisible work at home is now recognized.”

Matula added that the approval of a minimum wage of P2,500 for NCR is an improvement from P800 – the rate that is still prescribed under the Labor Code.  Wages will then be adjusted by the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board.  

"In our own homes, whether we are trade unionists or not, we must treat our domestic workers the way we want to be treated in our workplaces. There is no better way to show our concrete support for fellow workers than by doing unto our domestic workers what the rest of us expect from our employers," said Matula.

The Bicam has earlier agreed on provisions mandating contracts, social protection and benefits coverage, and mechanisms for rescue of abused domestic workers, among others.

Domestic workers are elated over the Bicam approval of the Bill.  According to Lilibeth Masamloc, President of SUMAPI, national association of domestic workers, “We find the provisions of the Bill fair to both domestic workers and employers.  We merely wanted to have a fair share from the fruits of our labor.” 

“The Bicameral approval of the Batas Kasambahay brings us closer to a new era for more than 2 million domestic workers who will now have the opportunity for decent work and a chance to escape poverty through their own hard work,” declared Ma. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, President of Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc.  

“We are thankful to the Chairpersons of the Senate and House Committee on Labor, Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Congressman Emil Ong, for their statesmanship and steadfast commitment to have this law enacted before the end of the year,” Oebanda added

Champion of decent work for domestic workers 

Labor groups especially thanked Sen. Estrada who earlier this month addressed the National Trade Union Conference on Decent Work for Domestic Workers in Manila organized by the FFW and the Domestic Work Technical Working Group.

"I assure you that there will be a Domestic Workers Law before Christmas," Sen. Estrada said in a gathering of more than 100 trade union and domestic workers association leaders.

In the same Conference, Estrada agreed to become a staunch advocate of the international campaign to promote the ratification of ILO Convention 189 or the Decent Work for Domestic Workers Convention that was ratified by the Philippines in August. Estrada is a recognized 12 by 12 champion. The 12 by 12 is a campaign of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to get 12 countries to ratify ILO Convention 189 in 2012.

"Our domestic workers are considered modern heroes of our country and the backbone of our economy. I say this because they are those whose mere presence in the households ensures the security and safety of our children," Estrada said.

The Senate and the House panel agreed on provisions on minimum wage and on protection of children engaged in domestic work – breaking a two-month deadlock that delayed the passage of the much-awaited Bill.  Estrada, the author of the Domestic Workers Bill at the Senate has originally proposed the legislation of the wages of domestic workers upon the passage of the law. The Committee agreed to peg the minimum wage of domestic workers at P2,500 per month for the National Capital Region, P2,000 for chartered cities and first class municipalities, and P1,500 for other municipalities.

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