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Cambodia: Cambodia Domestic Workers Network (CDWN) founding congress

by IDWFED published Nov 12, 2012 12:00 AM
The public and media in Cambodia are surprised to see now domestic workers in Cambodia are starting to be organized!. Cambodia Domestic Workers Network (CDWN) had its founding congress on Nov 10 and 11, 2012 in Phnom Penh.



The public and media in Cambodia are surprised to see now domestic workers in Cambodia are starting to be organized!. Cambodia Domestic Workers Network (CDWN) had its founding congress on Nov 10 and 11, 2012 in Phnom Penh.

Over 100 domestic workers, cleaners and security guards attended the congress and elected the president, vice-president and secretary. "I suffer the crisis. I want to know what's going on - the importance of association and how to link with human values." Sothy Yim made a determined remarks at the congress. Sothy is the newly elected vice-president. She has been a domestic worker for 21 years, both in Cambodia and Thailand.

Below is a report of the Congress:

On 10-11 November, 2012, Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) organized a first founding congress of Cambodia Domestic Worker Network (CDWN) which support by Dan Church Aid/Christian Aid (DCA/CA), International Domestic Worker Network (IDWN), American Center for International Labour Solidarity (ACILS) and LICADHO at Tonle Bassac Restaurant, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. There are around 150 people attended include 90% females. They are domestic worker and cleaner who are from different area in Phnom Penh, representative from local and international organization such as IDEA, Cambodian Labor Confederation (CLC), Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS), Cambodian Food and Service Worker Federation (CFSWF), Cambodian Independence Civil-servant Association (CICA), Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC), Cambodian Youth Network(CYN), World Solidarity Movement (WSM), Dan Church Aid/Christian Aid (DCA/CA), International Labor organization (ILO), NGO Committee on CEDAW, Cambodian Women Movement Organization (CWMO), Cambodian Working Group for Domestic Worker (CWGDW), International Domestic Worker Network (IDWN) and other local journalists in Cambodia such as: SEATV, CNC, DAP, CEN, KTV, TV9, TV3, RFA, RFI. This congress aims to organize the first structure of domestic worker in Cambodia, build broad-based support for ratification of ILO convention No 189, and develop action plan for Cambodian domestic workers’ right protection.

First day, during the event there is a welcoming speech from Mr Heng Sam Orn who is Secretary General of IDEA as he said it is the first that IDEA organized domestic worker to protect their rights and he also shared about activity of IDEA both in Phnom Penh and branch office in Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk, and Banteay Meanchey province. He continued that we start to expand network to mobilize domestic worker since 2009 after we did the research at Siem Reap and Sihanouk province which demonstrate that domestic worker face many challenges such as working for many hours, low salary, rights abuse. Then IDEA also advocated and conducted the tripartite workshop. In 2010, the government decided in three points related to domestic worker such as support ILO convention No 189 but they even not attend in voting in Geneva city, creating coordination committee for domestic worker but till now have not created yet, and create the national mechanism for domestic worker protection but still have not created yet. Additionally, IDEA developed the four year strategic plan on domestic worker in order to seek for support as we found DCA now who support us to do these thing and what we do now is want to urge the government to ratify ILO convention No 189 to ensure decent work for domestic worker through our main activities such as training, organizing, and advocacy; IDEA plans to do national workshop with WMO; do campaign in 10th of December 2012 to urge convention No 189 ratification; corporate with other organization like CLEC, ASEAN Transnational Coordination (ATNC), NGO Committee CEDAW as well as becoming a member of Street Net International recently. Finally, He hoped that CDWN association and relevant partner will work in solidarity to promote and protect domestic worker rights toward decent work with dignity. After that, there are also have speech of interest of guest speaker from different organization as Mr. Moeun Tola from CLEC said that this event is a historical for domestic worker as before we used to focus on garment, construction worker, and oversea migrant worker but now we know that domestic worker also have many challenges. He continued that ILO convention No 189 is one of our successes but it is just the paper so we have to demand as to day we will choose the leader of CDWN so we have to demand what we want. Then, Mr. Yem Sereyvatanak from ILO also expressed that it is historical that ILO pay attention on domestic worker as they face many challenges as they are vulnerable because 80% of domestic worker as females. Therefore, we organize them to demand for decent work, decent wage, and holiday and live with dignity. Nowadays we are working with other association, relevant partner in four elements as training, organizing, conflict resolution and advocacy. At the same time, Mrs. KATJA from DCA/CA shared that there are so many domestic workers in the world not only Cambodia. Even if it take time for convention ratification but we all have to consolidate to achieve it and we have to work with the government as well to pursue the rights recognition for domestic worker and also work with other oversea domestic worker. Meanwhile, Mr. Bismo Samoyoto demonstrated about his organization that WSM in ASEA work in Cambodia, India, and Philippine. He continued that domestic worker in Cambodia are mostly young which is easily to be vulnerable. Ms. Ip Pui Yu Fish also said that in Hong Kong also has many domestic workers as Cambodia but they have strong network. What domestic worker demand is only their basic rights so if there is anyone refuse it mean their rights is being not recognized. However, to be part of solution, we try to aware to other and hope that we work as an international network. Furthermore, Mrs. Pong Chhiv Kek from NGO-CEDAW illustrated that domestic work is a hard one especially for children. Domestic worker have rights to relax, access to health treatment, decent wage for themselves and family. She also appreciates their organizing and reaches to congress event today for this network. Last but not least, Mr. Ath Thorn from CLC said that he was really appreciate on IDEA to create this network and event of Congress today as it was a sign to show the public start to think about the domestic worker issue in Cambodia.

After finishing the guest speaker expression, there was panel discussion on International Convention No 189, speakers from IDWN for ASIA, CWGDW, CLEC, CWMO with question asking that “what are the strategy and recommendation of each organization for domestic worker?”then each of organization representative was shared their ideas as Miss. Sophannara from CWMO shared that she had four strategies such as organize the women network, capacity building, advocacy, and provide the consultation on law to women. Mr. Moeun Tola from CLEC told that there are two steps so first we have to include domestic worker issue in strategic plan of CLEC; conduct radio talk show; capacity building on law to relevant working group; push law enforcement and monitor sub-degree No 57& 90 on sending labor abroad. Second step is support both finance and technical in advocacy action for domestic worker. Then, Mr. Sokchar from CWGDW said that the important thing is we all have to consolidate to demand what we want especially seek for convention No 189 ratification together. Moreover, Mr. Ben Vanpeper from WSM also reveal that WSM have been working with social affair organization for 15 years and take part in giving recommendation to the government in cresting movement for social change and WSM also want to urge the government to ratify the convention No 189 too so that WSM will support for this process. Last, Miss. Ip Pui Yu Fish from IDWN just raised some point in convention No 189 on domestic worker rights.

After panel discussion on International Convention No 189, there was a question and answer session that allowed participants to raise their question. At that time a question was asked that what we should do to promote domestic worker. And there are the answers from CLEC and CWMO representative that we have to find out the meaning of this convention in order to demand followed by this law and awareness-raising on rights to women to discuss to find the solution and advocate.

After question and answer session, there was presentation by Miss. Ip Pui Yu Fish, Asia coordinator of IDWN on the situation of domestic worker in the world and on the experience of protection of domestic workers’ rights which demonstrate on organizing experience of domestic workers and the change IDWN brings through organizing. During that time, she shared on the challenges of domestic workers in Cambodia and in the world and activities of IDWN in Latin America, Hong Kong, Nepal, and South Korea. IDWN had other key activities such as organizing and strengthening network; support local and national advocacy; build network and partnership.

After presentation from Miss. Ip Pui Yu Fish, Asia coordinator of IDWN, there was a question and answer session again for participants to ask. During that time, so many questions were raise up such as How do we create training school at home and find job for domestic worker; Is it the human rights abuse in case that the employers do not allow the domestic worker to visit their parent at their hometown; What can we do to push the employer to recognize our rights; Which country that first initiative demand for domestic worker rights in the world; Do we still organize the network even if the convention No 189 is ratified; What can we do to eradicate the discrimination on cleaner among high level staff?

After finishing the question and answering session, there was group discussion on strategy plan for 4 years of Cambodian domestic worker Network (CDWN). Each group need to answer guiding question which group 1 & 3 will answer on “what are the activities we can do to urge the government to ratify Convention No 189?” And group 2 & 4 will answered on “How can we strengthen domestic worker network ad mobilize more member?” after that, the entire group answered which illustrated on the flipcharts were collected and kept properly.

Second day, before we  continued the program from the first day, there are also have welcoming speech from three speakers such as David John Welsh Country Director from ACILS, Mr. Sar Mora representative from Solidarity House and Mr. Vorn Pao, president of IDEA to express their interest on this event. Then, here is Adoption on statute of CDWN. At that time, Vice-president of IDEA shows by LCD and read it loudly to all participants and they were asked to raise their hand to adopt this statute of CDWN.

After statute adoption of CDWN, the program officer of IDEA introduced the organizing committee and election law of CDWN to make sure those participants could know about procedure of voting process. Then, the nominators were introduced as we have six nominators such as Ms. Sang Srey; Ms. Dy sorphorn; Ms. Yem Sothy, Miss. Uong Nisa; Miss. Von Samphurs; Miss Ngoung Kimneng with provide them the time for a few minute to say something to promote themselves. After that, there is a question and answering session to allow participants to ask some question to nominators which three questions were raised as 1) If you are the winners, do you think u have time to lead this network? 2) What is your commitment if you are the one who win this voting? 3) What will you do to promote this convention No 189 if you win? Then, the voting was processed and there is the winner declaration after we finish the voting process. Finally, there is a closing remark by IDEA president and Vice President, and IDWN representative. The event was end with enthusiastic mood and took solidarity photo together.

As the result of the whole program, the event was covered and broadcasted by local Medias, three leaders of CDWN were chosen as Miss. Von Samphurs win to be a president, Mrs. Yem Sothy win to be a vice-president and Miss. Uong Nisa win to be a secretary and all participants had knowledge of ILO convention 189, the domestic worker issue both in Cambodia and around the world.

Phnom Penh, November 12, 2012
Reported by
Chum Chamm
Program Officer, IDEA

Source: Chum Chamm

Story Type: News

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