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Managing labour migration: The case of the Filipino and Indonesian domestic helper market in Hong Kong 7

management as a top concern. More than ten years following its passage, the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families entered force in 2003 representing a major step towards improving the lives of this vast and mobile population. To date, only 37 countries have ratified the Convention–none of them major receiving states.

Nevertheless, countries of origin and destination have reached little consensus on how

best to manage migration and mitigate the transnational workers. Governments remain evaluation studies; coordination gaps between

hefty costs of mobility assumed constrained by the lack of data varying systems for employment

by and and

human rights protection; reporting by human rights

ambiguous institutional mandates; organizations and the media.





While a variety of state and private sector structures have emerged to manage migration, little is known about the efficacy of these migration infrastructures (or systems) or the impact the varying types have on the journeys and experiences of migrants working abroad. Thus, as this “trade” expands, the challenge of how to effectively manage labor migration will become more complex and important.

Do higher migration infrastructures – in both sending and receiving states – lead to greater protection of overseas workers?

This policy analysis exercise (PAE) has been commissioned by the ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific to provide a fresh perspective on a growing governance policy concern: How effective are current labor migration infrastructures at ensuring the welfare of migrants for employment?

In an effort to advance the study of labor migration management, this report compares states with different migration infrastructure and the experiences of their migrant workers while in the host country. Specifically, this paper analyzes the Filipino and Indonesian foreign domestic helper5 market in Hong Kong. Of particular interest is whether the combination of high migration infrastructures from sending and receiving states makes for safer journeys and working conditions abroad. This study aims to


Throughout this paper the terms domestic helper, domestic worker and maids are used interchangeably.


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