Tuesday, February 21, 2017

ASEAN Labor Ministers to finalize draft instrument for migrant workers’ rights

Posted on February 21, 2017

SENIOR labor officials attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Labor Ministers’ Retreat here from Feb. 19 to 22 are preparing to finalize the draft instrument for the implementation of a Declaration made 10 years ago to promote and protect migrant workers’ rights.

“What we have decided to submit to the ASEAN committee on the implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers as an output brings us closer to the fulfillment of the dream that we have sown in Cebu ten years ago,” Labor and Employment Secretary Silverstre H. Bello III said during the event’s formal opening yesterday.

“I have received word yesterday (Sunday) through a show of goodwill and a very open yet frank discussion, we have gained a significant stride on how to move the process forward to be able to meet the April 2017 deadline,” he said.

In an interview after the opening ceremony, Mr. Bello clarified that there are still unresolved issues among the labor ministers, specifically on including the term “legally binding.”

Mr. Bello said that with some ASEAN member countries not yet ready to adopt the term, it was proposed that “morally-binding” be used instead.

The Declaration was signed on Jan. 13, 2007 during the 12th ASEAN Summit in Cebu City.

Mr. Bello, who urged his fellow ministers to keep a mind-set that will help them complete their task of implementing the Declaration, said: “Out of mutual respect, we always agree by consensus and once a consensus is reached, we ethically bind ourselves to implement and agree on a set of commitments.”

He said they are aiming for an instrument that is “meaningful to the everyday lives of ASEAN migrant workers.”

Mr. Bello said the instrument is expected to contain provisions on the promotion and protection of migrant workers’ rights including “protection on working hours, exemption from the payment of terminal fees and recruitment fees” among others.

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