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Asian domestics the world's most badly treated

New ILO report paints grim picture reporter, Manila

January 10, 2013

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Domestic workers in Asia receive among the worst treatment globally, according to a new report released yesterday by the International Labor Organization.

Of the 21.5 million domestic workers in the Asia-Pacific, only three percent are entitled to a weekly day of rest against around half of all the butlers, maids and gardeners employed worldwide, according to the ILO report.

Similarly, just one percent of domestic workers in the region have statutory limits to their standard maximum weekly working hours versus three-quarters of counterparts in Latin America.

Asia scored particularly badly on maternity leave, a key indicator of rights given that women make up 80 percent of all domestic workers worldwide. 

Only 12 percent in the region enjoy such benefits, the report said, while in Latin America every woman qualifies for maternity leave.

Yoshiteru Uramoto, ILO regional director for the Asia-Pacific, noted that the Philippines was one of just three countries – also including Uruguay and Mauritius – to have ratified a new domestic workers convention that sets a framework for legislation governing conditions. Other countries in the region are close to doing so, he added.

“It’s very encouraging that some Asian countries, such as Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore, are moving in the right direction with labor reforms,” said Uramoto. “But this report makes it clear that more action is needed by more countries.”

In Asia, India has the most domestic workers at 4.2 million, followed by Indonesia with 2.4 million and the Philippines with 1.9 million. One in 13 women in this region are employed as domestic workers.

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