New Convention on the Rights Term Paper

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[. . .] The actual number of affected workers could easily be closer to 100 million. This uncertainty may be exacerbated by the fact that over 80 per cent of the workers affected consist of young girls and women without official status, providing an added barrier to their being fully represented in data and estimates currently available.

C189 is a historic 2011 accord. It was accepted through overwhelming acceptance by 475 delegates representing international governments, employers, and employees. The June 16, 2011 voting results included 396 in favor of the convention, 16 in opposition, and 63 abstentions (Kapatamoyo, 2011). In terms of the positions of nations worldwide, strong advocates for the convention included South Africa, Brazil, the United States and Australia. All opponents to acceptance of the convention were from the nation of Swaziland. Countries abstaining from the vote included the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, and several nations in Southeast Asia, Central America, and Africa. It is noteworthy that members of the nine-member Gulf Cooperation Council, which included Saudi Arabia, were initially opposed to C189 but later reversed their positions and indicated support of legally binding conventions, as a result of negotiations preceding the final vote (Human Rights Watch, 2011).

In view of the severe violations in Saudi Arabia such as the Carda case and others, the persuasive power of C189 resulting from international visibility and pressure is evident in the Saudi government's concession to accept the Convention in principle, despite the vehement opposition shown by some parties within that nation. Where the act will be truly tested is in the actual compliance observed at the working levels of employers and employees in years to come. The Indonesian Maid Wars in Saudi Arabia following the June 2011 vote favoring C189 serve to provide ample evidence of the deep-seated resistance and long-held cultural values that C189 seeks to unseat. Such a transformation is unlikely to occur instantaneously, despite the formal ratification by a nation's government. Should there be any doubt of this assertion, one need only look to the example of the continuing persistence of centuries-old caste discrimination in modern India, more than a half-century after that system was officially outlawed by the Indian constitution of 1949.

The fact that children comprise over 30 per cent of domestic workers worldwide helps to account for the emphasis accorded in C189 to address their plight. In addition to the general provisions for all domestic workers, Articles 3(2c), 4(1) and 4(2) of C189 address several specific areas of concern focused upon children and underage workers in general. Human Rights Watch (2011) reports that child domestic workers worldwide may work for over fifteen hours per day for seven days a week, beginning as young as six years of age. In some areas, less than 3 per cent of child domestic workers were found to receive the benefit of schooling. Supervision and monitoring to prevent and handle cases of physical abuse and sexual assault upon child workers is generally not in place in many nations.

We will now survey examples of responses to ILO C189 in the context of human rights law in several prominent employer nations, as well as several nations providing migrant domestic workers to those employers. C189 is needed to address migrant domestic worker mistreatment in most countries around the world, regardless of their economic or political stature. So-called first world countries such as the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom have been no less immune to domestic worker abuse issues than other less prominent nations such as Malaysia, Lebanon and Jordan.

Zambia is an example of a country that provides many domestic workers internationally and also employs imported domestic workers. It has moved aggressively to educate its migrant domestic worker population about their rights related to decent work conditions, as well as the avenues available to them for recourse in the event they encounter mistreatment internally or in foreign lands. Zambia has introduced legislation ensuring the entitlement minimum wages for its domestic workers for the first time in its history, via The Minimum Wages and Conditions of Employment Act (Cap 276). Cap 276 provides a working definition of a Zambian domestic worker as "a person who takes care of a child, an aged person, a sick person, a frail person or a person with a disability within a household. Gardeners and those paid to do household chores are also classified as domestic workers." The Zambian legislation further specifies limitations upon hours of work and gives guidelines for separation payments and transportation allowances (Kapatamoyo, 2011). Supplementing the Zambian Cap 276 legislation are a number of easily accessible resources which can be accessed and used by the public, including both employers and domestic workers. An online survey checklist under the title of "Decent Work Check" enables quantification of how well an employer complies with the national legal work standard. The Zambian Decent Work Check survey and publicity program helps the civilian population understand the legally worded Conventions, to allow them to grasp what worker rights mean in actual practice, what protections are available, and what entitlements to recourse and recompense apply to specific situations they may encounter. A supplement to the survey urges workers to compare their own situations with the parameters set out by the international standard and the legal provisions specific to Zambia. It educates workers about the ILO Conventions (including C189 and its predecessors), and informs them about the ongoing talks and negotiations taking place on their behalf between ILO member governments, employers, labor lawyers, trade unions and other organizations. Zambian domestic workers are thus more informed about what the ILO Convention means to them, and what they may expect in terms of its authority and enforceability; an ILO Convention such as C189 is not in itself a law, but a commitment that is ratified by a national government, which then creates conforming laws that can be applied and enforced within its jurisdictions.

Prior to C189, the ILO embarked on several efforts of a similar nature which in retrospect lacked the strength and international commitment to achieve the desired effects. For example, in 1999 the ILO published a so-called Decent Work Agenda, which has since been widely accepted at a strategic level including incorporation into the goals of the United Nations. C189 serves to emphasize that employer nations can do more to improve their performance by ensuring they provide minimum protections that do not amount to less than the Convention specifies. The Convention establishes the minimum standard, and States are encouraged to do more, as appropriate to their respective situations and values.

The Philippines supplies a significant number of domestic workers internationally, the majority of which have historically been female. According to a 2010 study by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), approximately 100,000 Filipinos were employed overseas as domestic workers, of which less than two per cent were male. Top destinations for Filipino domestic workers have included Hong Kong and the Middle East including the countries of Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Internally, the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics estimated that nearly two million households within Philippine borders also retained domestic workers in 2011. With such a vested interest in the welfare of domestic workers within and outside its borders, the Philippines has played a leading role in the promotion and development of C189. It has led the international field in ratification of C189, which it views as the provision of all household workers with standardized labor rights including normalized work hours, entitlement to periods of rest and periodic paid leave, decent working conditions and accommodations, social freedoms, and access to collective bargaining. At the same time, the Philippine government is realistic and well aware of the issues and challenges to implementation of C189. They have noted the arguments and protests expected internally from Philippine employers, as well as the significance of the high count of 63 abstentions by voting delegates for C189. The undersecretary of the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment noted that 30 per cent of the membership of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had abstained from the vote, including the countries of Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. Another ILO representative, Amelia King-Dejardin, pointed out that over 40 per cent of the world's supply of domestic workers originate in Asia. She emphasized the importance of ASEAN member participation and support, acknowledging that as a major originator of the world's migrant domestic workers, Asia must not fail to push for the ratification of C189, lest it erode its position regarding their protection and rights. Dejardin aptly summarized that "Asia would have no moral ground over the matter if we cannot take care of our own" (Diquino, 2011).

In the Middle East, the governments of both Jordan and Lebanon have moved aggressively to attempt resolution of the types of domestic worker issues addressed by C189.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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New Convention on the Rights.  (2011, December 19).  Retrieved February 15, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/new-convention-rights/9162104

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"New Convention on the Rights."  19 December 2011.  Web.  15 February 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/new-convention-rights/9162104>.

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"New Convention on the Rights."  Essaytown.com.  December 19, 2011.  Accessed February 15, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/new-convention-rights/9162104.