The Channel, Season 1, EP. 38 - discussion

Migrant Domestic Workers with Liberty Chee, Elsa Ramos Carbone, and Jec Sernande

This episode is guest hosted by Liberty Chee, who is currently a visiting researcher here at the International Institute for Asian Studies. While in Leiden, Liberty is working on a book manuscript that examines recruitment and employment agencies in Southeast Asia, their relations to other state and non-state actors, and how these structure the experiences of domestic migrant workers themselves. For this episode of The Channel, Liberty organized a conversation about the ILO Convention on Domestic Work (C189), which is a global norm-setting instrument that formalizes domestic work and serves as an important advocacy tool. To date, only one country in Asia – The Philippines – has ratified the Convention, even though more than half of the world’s domestic workers live and reside in the wider region. Asia is also host to a significant number of migrant domestic workers, both moving within and across regions. In this episode, Liberty interviews two advocates and organizers: Elsa Ramos-Carbone and Jec Sernande. Elsa Ramos-Carbone is a founding member of Samahan ng Mga Manggagawang Pilipino sa Belgium (Association of Philippine Migrant Workers in Belgium). Previously, she was Director of Equality and Youth at the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICTFU), and Senior Specialist for Workers' Activities at the International Labour Organization (ILO), Asia-Pacific Regional Office in Bangkok. Elma Joy “Jec” Sernande is a migrant domestic worker of 17 years.  She is Secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Worker Union and Executive Committee Member of the International Domestic Workers Federation. In describing their experiences organizing as workers in and across different contexts, their discussion illuminates key moments, alliances, and discourses which made C189 and its ratification possible.