ATKI-HK: Women’s Participation and Collective Action to Promote the Rights of Domestic Workers
GAATW Fortnightly Member Interview
with Eni Lestari, Chairperson of the Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong or Asosiasi Tenaga Kerja Indonesia (ATKI-HK)
07 September 2012
ATKI-HK and other network groups have actively campaigned for the ratification of C189 or the ILO Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers at the national and regional levels. What is the status of your campaign right now? What has been done to strengthen grassroots advocacy and mobilisation amongst Indonesian and other migrant domestic workers?
After the convention was passed, ATKI with Asian Migrants Coordinating Body (AMCB) organised migrant leaders’ forum last July 2011 from Indonesia, Filipina, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Nepal. We also carried the demands and submit petition during the celebration of International Migrant’s Day to Indonesian and HK government to ratify C189.
We held a series of focus group discussions on C189 among international migrant workers organizations in Hong Kong, SAR and Macau. We also organised creative fashion show competition for domestic workers during Indonesian women’s day in April 2012.
With AMCB, we organised a rally to celebrate the first year of International Domestic Worker’s Day at the Hong Kong Government Office to demand the ratification of C189 from Chinese Government.
At this stage, the promotion of C189 and its importance for migrant domestic worker’s protection is very important. In every issue that we campaigned, we also ensure that it is linked with the importance of ratifying C189 such as agency problems, standard employment contract, consulate services, direct hiring and debt bondage.
So far, the organised Indonesian migrant workers are aware of C189 and the main leaders are able to provide education relating to this convention. A simple module is also created to facilitate the education and information awareness.
What challenges are there for your group and your network?
Education to migrant domestic workers
Sustaining education and reaching broader number of Indonesian migrant domestic workers is one of the biggest challenges as they are scattered in different parts of Hong Kong. In this case, we ensure that the issue is being discussed in our monthly publication or statements.
Lobbying for ratification and policies reforms
Hong Kong is only a destination city for migrant domestic workers. In terms of ratification, it is Chinese and Indonesian government who has the power to decide. Therefore we can only organise dialogues and or demonstrations in front of Indonesian consulate and HK government hoping they will relay the message to the central governments.
As a self-organised group of Indonesian migrant workers, ATKI has challenged ideas and led many activities to pressure governments in bringing better policies and programs for Indonesian domestic workers. What do you think is ATKI’s contribution in representing the voices of migrant workers in the policy making process?
ATKI is ensuring the public dissemination of information/policies released by the government/s and gathered the inputs/opinion/demands (from the consultations/forums) to be brought to the officials through petition, statements, dialogue and other forms.
The key of this is to gather more people to gain more power. In this case, ATKI is leading PILAR (United Indonesian against overcharging) and Indonesian Migrant Muslim Alliance (GAMMI) and formed Alliance of IMWs to scrap law 39 (with total of 50 groups).
We also try to influence high profile people to also help us pressure the consulate/government in passing better policies/measures for domestic workers’ welfare.
In this way, ATKI has played significant leading role in representing the voices and advancing the demands of Indonesian migrant domestic workers.
What are your strategies to pursuade governments to ratify C189?
We sent a petition to Indonesia government through the consulate during International Migrant’s Day. We also have close contact with our networks in Indonesia in the campaign of C189.
Recently, the Philippines became the 2nd country to ratify C189. What do you think were the key factors that made this advocacy campaign a success?
The international pressure by different groups to the Phillipine government and good image that they want to create in terms of protection of domestic workers.
How does your group/network plan to monitor the states’ actions after the ratification of the ILO convention on decent work for domestic workers?
Within the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) and AMCB, we agreed to continue promoting the importance of C189 and celebrating International Domestic Workers Day as means of pressuring the states.
Also, the United for Foreign Domestic Workers’ Rights (UFDWR) continues to take up the campaign through dialogue with different embassies. ATKI-HK, as part of AMCB is one of the campaign members of UFDWR.