MANILA – Women workers in the Philippines along with their foreign counterparts continue to grapple with long work hours including unpaid work, wage disparity, and high incidence of informality, according to a 2016 report by the International Labor Organization (ILO).
The report was released last Monday, March 8, celebrated as International Women’s Day.
“Gender stereotypes of women and expectations by society that they will shoulder larger care responsibilities, lack of role models, a work culture that expects long working hours, the undervaluation of traditionally ‘feminine’ skills and inadequate work-family measures limit the possibilities for women to overcome segregation and participate on an equal footing in political, social and economic life and decision-making and reach top-level positions,” read the ILO report, heavily focused on the vulnerabilities attached to domestic work.
The report notes that mostly female domestic workers in the Philippines work for 52 hours a week.
Using 2013 data, it also highlighted the disparity in floor wage rates between domestic workers and other occupational groups, saying “the monthly minimum wage of domestic workers was one-fifth that of workers in the non-agricultural sector in the national capital region.”
Younger girls aged 7 to 14 in the Philippines likewise spend slightly more time in household chores.
“There is an expectation that, from a young age, women will perform the majority of unpaid housework and unpaid care work,” the report explains.
The ILO report, however, used data points from 2010 and 2013 as well as previous ILO surveys in its analysis.
There are 1.9 million Filipinos in domestic service locally, based on 2010 ILO estimates.
Social protection gap
In 2012, the Philippines ratified the ILO Convention 189 which deals with Decent Work for Domestic Workers, becoming the second country to do so.
In 2013, the Philippines signed into law Republic Act (RA) 10361 or the Kasambahay Law to “institute policies for the protection and welfare of domestic workers.”
Among the provisions of the law is the employers’ obligation to provide an employment contract, respect for privacy, access to outside communication, at least 3 adequate meals a day, and humane sleeping arrangements to household service workers (HSWs).
Since these reforms, Filipino domestic workers have been organized with the help of local labor federations for collective representation in national dialogues.
Julius Cainglet of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) said the law has increased both workers’ and employers’ awareness and sensitivity to domestic workers’ rights but laments that “social protection coverage remains a big gap.”
“While the Kasambahay Law provides for mandatory coverage of the 1.9 million domestic workers, the actual registration in the SSS (120,000), PhilHealth (60,000), and Pag-IBIG (25,000) remain dismal,” he explained.
FFW was among the groups that helped organize HSWs in the country.
Still, domestic work is strongly associated with low remuneration and poor working conditions, the 2016 ILO report says.
In previous comments, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz had explained that HSWs are no longer as vulnerable in terms of their legal rights in the Philippines given recent reforms.
Despite this, she explained that HSWs still face vulnerabilities at times due to factors inherent to domestic work where the worker is not based in an establishment but in a household where there is practically no support system. –Buena Bernal, InterAksyon.com