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Domestic Workers Act Gets Bicameral Approval

20 Nov 2012

Groups hail Philippine legislators’ okay of landmark bill for domestic workers

Civil society groups, trade unions, and domestic workers hail the decision of the leadership of the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives to approve a Consolidated version of the Domestic Workers Act of 2012, more popularly known as the Batas Kasambahay last November 19. The Consolidated version is expected to be approved by both Houses on Monday, November 26.

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“The Bicameral approval of the Batas Kasambahay brings us closer to a new era for more than 2 million domestic workers who will now have the opportunity for decent work and a chance to escape poverty through their own hard work,” declared Ma. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, President of Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc.

“We are thankful to the Chairpersons of the Senate and House Committee on Labor, Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Congressman Emil Ong, for their statesmanship and steadfast commitment to have this law enacted before the end of the year,” Oebanda added  

The Senate and the House panel agreed on provisions on minimum wage and on protection of children engaged in domestic work – breaking a two-month deadlock that delayed the passage of the much-awaited Bill. The Committee agreed to peg the minimum wage of domestic workers at P2,500 per month for the National Capital Region, P2,000 for chartered cities and first class municipalities, and P1,500 for other municipalities.

“Trade unionists welcome with elation this historic legislation,” said Sonny Matula, president of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW). “This is a milestone for the workers movement. After 15 years of lobbying, our domestic workers are now included to have rights as that with other workers and their invisible work at home is now recognized.”

Matula added that the approval of a minimum wage of P2,500 for NCR is an improvement from P800 – the rate that is still prescribed under the Labor Code. Wages will then be adjusted by the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board.

The Bicam has earlier agreed on provisions mandating contracts, social protection and benefits coverage, and mechanisms for rescue of abused domestic workers, among others.

Domestic workers are elated over the Bicam approval of the Bill. According to Lilibeth Masamloc, President of SUMAPI, national association of domestic workers, “We find the provisions of the Bill fair to both domestic workers and employers. We merely wanted to have a fair share from the fruits of our labor.”  

“The fight is not yet over,” Oebanda cautioned. “We call on our honorable Congressmen and Senators to ratify this consolidated version before the Congressional recess and we call on President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to honor his pledge made to domestic workers during his State of the Nation Address in 2010 – a fitting Christmas gift to domestic workers.”

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