Protecting HSWs

EditorialOPINION
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WE call them with a variety of names. They are nannies, maids, household guards, drivers, as well as other names but collectively known as Household Service Workers (SWs) here. Whatever we call them, they make it possible for us to be more productive in our chosen fields.

That is the undeniable truth about the matter. Imagine taking care of the kids while at the same time busy with our regular work as an engineer, businessman, architect, or what have you. It is very difficult to balance regular work with household tasks that HSWs are now indispensable in our modern lives.

Let’s face it, without these household help, the development of this country, even the region for that matter, would probably take on a different track. Or development would be at a much slower pace.

Even as we recognize that these household help are indispensable to our daily lives, it is sad to note that they are the most worked, and least remunerated. The thousands of HSWs leaving the Philippines for these shores every day do so with the knowledge that hardships would be their daily companion. They know that there will be days when they would not get any rest or even sleep, that they would be paid a pittance for the work they contribute, and that they would face the possibility of being abused, either physically or verbally.

And yet they come to make life easier for their principals in this country.

So it is welcome news indeed that the Federal National Council has seen fit to recognize these HSWs by granting them with certain accommodations that would make their service more meaningful, less a burden, and more humane.

In sum, these accommodations are a regular day off every week, 30-days paid leave every year, guaranteed 12-hours of rest (with uninterrupted 8-hours of sleep) every day, and most importantly, the right to hold on to their personal documents not the least of which are their passports as well as their Emirati identification cards, and work permits. Aside from these, they can be assured of protection against discrimination with regards to sex, race and color of skin, religious belief, political opinion, and national or social sect.

And most importantly, protection against physical or verbal abuse, human trafficking and forced labor.

And our embassy fully backs this initiative. “Any law or provision that [will] benefit our HSWs is most welcome,” Consul General Paul Raymond Cortes in Dubai and the Northern Emirates said of the new law which only needs the imprimatur of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for it to become binding throughout the UAE.

These accommodations are part of the push of the UAE government to comply with international codes on labor. In particular these are in line with the International Labor Organization’s Convention 189 and Recommendation 201 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. Indeed, the Emirati government wants to project to the whole world that it is just as sincere in keeping its workforce happy and content as it is in gaining worldwide recognition for its advancements in infrastructure and technology.

Consul Cortes said it best, which we echo here: “This only proves that the UAE is more and more a global model for the promotion and protection of migrant workers. And for this, the Philippines as a labor sending country, is very grateful.”

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