May 26th 2011

Our Dignity at Work and Labour Rights Must be Respected

Domestic workers play an important role in strengthening the general economic system. Over the past years few years, the work of domestic workers has generated 27,000 million baht. Domestic workers also play a key role in promoting economic situation in our families because, by employing domestic workers, other women are able to work outside the home to support their families. In Thailand itself, many households employ migrant and local domestic workers. According to the 2009 National Statistical Office survey of employment, there are approximately 230,000 domestic workers in individual households. In addition, according to the latest official statistics of the Office of Foreign Workers Administration, roughly 129,000 migrant workers registered for work permits as domestic workers in 2010. Meanwhile, domestic work is increasingly in demand due to the current economic and social trend where all family members of a working age work outside the home. It should be acknowledged and recognized that domestic workers play a significant role in driving the economic development and supporting social changes in Thailand.

Nevertheless, the working and living conditions of domestic workers have not improved and developed at the same rate. Domestic work is still not recognized under the law as work and is only acknowledged in the informal sector, a sector where all workers lack protection of their rights. Consequently, domestic workers have no assurances about the practices of the employers, their wages, or living and working conditions. There are no protection mechanisms to guarantee domestic workers fundamental rights such as weekly holidays, annual holidays, working hours, fair wages, safe work environment and private accommodation in the employer’s home. Domestic workers are mostly women, both young and old, who are easily at risk of sexual harassment and abuse by their employers. It can be said that domestic workers in Thailand are a vulnerable group whose rights are at constant risk of being violated which is a human rights violation and is contradictory to the Decent Work Agenda initiated by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

In response, domestic workers group in Thailand together with national and international non-governmental organizations have been campaigning for many years for the rights of domestic workers.

On the occasion of the participation of the Royal Thai Government delegates in the 100th Session of the International Labour Conference from 1-17 June 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland, domestic workers groups including both migrant and Thai workers as well as civil society networks of domestic workers in Thailand request your urgent consideration of the following recommendations:

* We strongly urge the Royal Thai Government and the distinguished delegates from the Kingdom of Thailand which includes the delegates of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, the delegates of the House of Representatives, the delegates of Employer Organizations and Trade Union to support the Draft Convention on the Protection of Rights of Domestic workers and recommendations initiated by ILO.

* As in interim measure, we strongly urge the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to urgently enact ministerial regulations to protect domestic workers in Thailand by August 2011 in order to harmonize with the commemoration of the International Domestic Workers Day on the 28th of August.

Finally, domestic workers group in Thailand and civil society networks for domestic works in Thailand wishes all the blessing from all the gods in the universe bring to the delegates of the Royal Thai Government the safe trip and much success. We highly hope to receive good news on international standards on domestic workers protection and to have Thai legislation under international standards for the protection of domestic workers from the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

Signed by:

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, law and Development (APWLD)
Domestic workers group in Thailand
Domestic Workers Exchange
Empower Foundation
Foundation for Child Development (FCD)
Foundation for Women (FFW)
Homenet Thailand (Foundation for Labour and Employment Promotion: FLEP)
MAP Foundation
State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation (SERC)

For further information, please contact

Naruedee Janthasing (Thai, English) Tel: +6686 921 9139

Rujisa Sanwee (Thai, Shan)

MAP Foundation

PO Box 7
Chiang Mai University, Thailand