Leaders of 10 member states in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have finally signed the long-delayed consensus that would protect the rights of migrant workers.
The signed consensus, dubbed “ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers” was presented by President Rodrigo Duterte to ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh on Tuesday, November 14.
The consensus is a follow-up document to the “ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers” that was adopted back in 2007 in Cebu.
The agreement is expected to benefit over 200,000 Filipino migrant workers in the region, many of whom are employed in Singapore and Malaysia, both members of ASEAN.
It is also expected to prevent many unfair practices from occurring in ASEAN member states, which includes confiscation of passports, overcharging of placement or recruitment fees and gives protection against violence and sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as the right to fair and appropriate remuneration benefits and their right to join trade unions and associations.
“In cases where Filipino migrant workers are imprisoned, they will have rights no less favorable than those applied to the local workers. They also have the right to file grievances with the relevant authorities in the countries they are working in,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a statement.
The implementation of the agreement will be subject to the respective laws of the ASEAN members.
“I am pleased to announce that ASEAN member states have come to an agreement on the ASEAN consensus on the protection and promotion of rights of migrant workers,” President Rodrigo Duterte said at the opening ceremony of the 31st ASEAN Summit on Monday.
“I will be joining other ASEAN leaders tomorrow in signing this landmark document that would strengthen social protection, access to justice, humane and fair treatment, and access to health services for our people,” he added.
The agreement is considered a centerpiece of the Philippines’ chairmanship of ASEAN.