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After Philippine ratification of ILO C189, safety NGO pushes for approval of Occupational Safety and Health Convention

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“The ratification by the Philippines of the International Labour Organization Convention 189 (ILO C189) or the Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers is a step forward in the long road of struggle for the protection of domestic workers.”

This was the reaction today by the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (, a non-profit, non-governmental health and safety organization based in Manila, as the Philippine government becomes one of the two signatories to the abovementioned Convention.

According to the Migrant Workers group Migrante, ILO C189 “recognizes domestic work as work and bestowing upon domestic workers equal rights and recognition as other workers – including the enforcement of minimum wage, regular working hours and holidays, provision of health and other benefits and the right to organize and form unions.”

“But there is a catch to it,” said Noel Colina, Executive Director of IOHSAD. “Receiving countries of domestic workers like Hong Kong and those in the Middle East must also sign the ILO C189. Unless countries sign, they are not beholden to the Convention.”

So far, only two countries are signatories to ILO C189: Philippines and Uruguay.

Aside from the abovementioned Convention, IOHSAD also reiterates the need for the Philippine government to be part of the 59 countries which have signed the ILO Convention 155 (ILO C155) or the Occupational Safety and Health Convention of 1981. “The multitudes of work-related deaths in the past months is a clarion call for the Government to immediately sign the ILO C155,” continued Colina.

According to Colina, ILO C155 covers not just one sector but the whole range of economic activity. “Noteworthy in the ILO C155 is Article 19 (f), wherein 'a worker reports forthwith to his immediate supervisor any situation which he has reasonable justification to believe presents an imminent and serious danger to his life or health; until the employer has taken remedial action, if necessary, the employer cannot require workers to return to a work situation where there is continuing imminent and serious danger to life or health'.”

“If the Philippines become signatory to ILO C155 and creates congruent national laws and policies, Filipino workers will be empowered to refuse work which poses imminent and serious danger to workers health. Couple this with workers health and safety training and proper hazard controls, workplaces will be safer and the welfare of workers and their families are protected,” opined Colina

“The Occupational Safety and Health Convention has been there since 1981, more than 3 decades have past since it was ratified by the ILO. In the meantime, workers are dying in the Philippines and the Government remains adamant in signing the ILO C155,” ended Colina.