March 8, 2016
As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, Migrante BC, a community-based organization committed to the protection and promotion of the rights and welfare of Filipino immigrants and migrant workers in British Columbia, stands in solidarity with the women in the Philippines and around the globe in their struggle against labour exploitation, forced migration and state violence.
In the Philippines, women continue to face economic hardships, state repression, and displacement under the current regime of President BS Aquino. Aquino’s authorization of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is an attack against all workers as the TPP opens national borders to profit-seeking multinational operations. This agreement is part of the globalized system of exploitation, wherein international trade keeps poor countries such as the Philippines dependent on multinational enterprises that create national and widespread joblessness in the country.
Backed by the Philippine state, many multinational corporations in the Philippines plunder the country’s resources through large-scale mining and foreign ownership of agricultural lands resulting in the depletion of national resources and the staggering decline of our national industries. Women in the Philippines face violence, not only from the police, the military and paramilitary groups who serve state and corporate interests, but also from the violence of poverty, hunger, and disease.
These conditions drive out millions of Filipino workers, majority of who are women, to work overseas and leave their families behind Filipino overseas workers are hailed by the Philippine state as “modern heroes” for helping prop-up the ailing Philippine economy with their remittances, while ignoring the terrible labour conditions of overseas Filipino workers in the host countries.
Here in Canada, majority of Filipino women come as caregivers and “low skilled” temporary workers. With little to no protection from the Philippine government, the Canadian government takes advantage of the education, expertise, and skills of hundreds of thousands of Filipino workers to fill its labour shortages.
While the Canadian government made changes in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), including the Live-in Caregiver Program, these changes have done little to protect and promote migrant workers’ rights. Migrant workers are still tied to their specific employers, they still face the mandatory removals after four years, and the pathway to permanent residency that is now more difficult and narrower to navigate. The situation of migrant workers is still marked by precariousness and multiple vulnerabilities.
Filipino women migrant workers endure the long years of family separation from their children and often than not, family reunification, when it happens, is a big challenge and remains one of the biggest social costs of migration.
Filipino women migrant workers continue to organize, to learn, to take action to improve and protect their rights and benefits. They continue to stand proud and in solidarity with Canadian women and women from other countries. As migrant women, they do not lose sight of the necessity of working towards one of the most basic rights which Filipinos share with those who have remained in the Philippines: the right to have decent work at home.
We call on all Filipino women here in BC to join us in our demand for a world free of exploitation from the oppressive patriarchal capitalist globalization schemes! We must stand together and fight against women’s oppression here in Canada and in the Philippines!
We call on the Philippine government to protect and uphold the rights of overseas Filipino workers!
We call on the Canadian government to put a stop to its exploitative labour policies and to establish an immigration system that protects women, migrant workers, their families and their communities!
Migrante BC stands in solidarity with the struggle of women workers around the world on International Women’s Day!