PH, HK Achieve ‘Milestone Accord’ for Filipino Domestic Workers
(SDN) — JUST in time for the International Domestic Workers’ Day today, June 16, the Philippines and Hong Kong have reached a “milestone agreement” as they signed a Code of Conduct for fair recruitment.
In an email to SDN — Science and Digital News, the International Labor Organization (ILO) in the Philippines relayed this positive development.
ILO said the Code is anchored on the ILO’s guidelines, and described the accord as a “milestone as the world marks the International Domestic Workers’ Day on 16 June.”
The signatories to the Code are two of the biggest employment agencies in Hong Kong, such as the Association of Hong Kong Manpower Agencies (AHKMA) and the Society of Hong Kong-Accredited Recruiters in the Philippines (SHARP).
Members of the two recruitment organizations signed the Code.
Key to the signing of the Code are the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Hong Kong and the ILO, as they facilitated the dialogue and consultation a year ago that was topped by the agreement.
The Philippine labor attache in Hong Kong, Jalilo Dela Torre, cited the long process that led to the signing.
“The Code went through a long, consultative process of drafting. The signing is only the beginning. What is crucial is implementing the Code and ensuring that compliance monitoring is built into a system that demonstrates good practice,” he said.
In relation with this, the ILO’s Fair Project commissioned experts to train member agencies of AHKMA and SHARP on ethical recruitment and to facilitate the process of developing the text of the Code based on aspirational principles and commitments that rercuitment associations ascribe to.
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) funded the project.
An ILO official assured the agency’s constancy of purpose in finding ways to achieve better recruitment practices.
“We are committed to explore new ideas that could help reduce deceptive and abusive recruitment practices. Non-binding bilateral instruments such as this Code of Conduct is another step promote and ensure fair and ethical recruitment of all workers, including migrant domestic workers,” said Gaela Roudy-Frases, program manager of the ILO Fair Project, one of the witness to the signing in Hong Kong on June 2.
One of the salient features of the Code is the prohibition of the collection of placement fees which the law does not authorize.
Image courtesy of South China Morning Post.
On the other hand, it endorses aspirational principles on adherence to law; respect for workers’ rights, health and safety; transparency to contract terms and conditions; access to grievance mechanism and remedy; protection from discrimination; and compliance to the Code.
Teresa Liu Tsui, who chairs AHKMA, noted the Code’s importance to a better running of business.
“The Code aims to enhance business operations, to maintain the reputable brands of AHKMA and SHARP as key industry players, and optimize benefits to both employers and domestic worker toward a successful recruitment and employment outcome,” she acknowledged.
One of its vital roles is that the Code provides a foundation to promote excellence and accountability in the recruitment industry, particularly when recruiting Filipino domestic workers.
Alfredo Palmiery, president of SHARP, explained it further.
“Recruitment should take place in a way that respects, protects and fulfills internationally recognized human rights. Workers should have a access to free, comprehensive and accurate information.
Agencies should take affirmative steps to ensure that workers are employed under contracts that respect their rights,” he said.
The ILO said the milestone undertaking contributes to its work on promoting decent work for all and leaving no one behind.
Various other organizations in the industry welcome the Code, such as the Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Union (FADWU), its affiliates of workers’ organizations from more than nine origin countries and the Progressive Labor Union of Domestic Workers from the Philippines.The ILO said migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong celebrated the International Domestic Workers’ Day. (SDN/ILO)
Featured image of Hong Kong logo courtesy of BrandHK.gov.hk.