[Statement] Workers Rights are Migrants Rights -KANLUNGAN

Workers Rights are Migrants Rights

Kanlungan’s response to the recent media debate by politicians’ about people who travel from China to work in the Philippines:

Job creation is a state obligation. It is the primary duty of governments, including the Philippines, to provide employment for citizens.

We strongly support local economic development as an alternative to the aggressive labour export policy of the Philippines.

As local workers face an economy with a lack of jobs and underemployment, addressing this must be the priority for the government.

Workers from overseas, who contribute to the development of the country, should be welcome if they bring skills and capabilities that are not found locally.
If they are prepared to do the work that local workers won’t do, that requires further investigation to ascertain why that is the case.

If it is found that workers from overseas are being exploited – earning lower wages and in poorer living and working conditions than locals, then the answer it to ensure the same labour rights for all workers (rather than division) to stop a race to the bottom in the treatment of all workers in the Philippine economy.

Independent research into the situation of migrant workers in the Philippines is important to inform the debate, as is research as to whether or not Filipinos can or would do those same jobs. Also transparency about conditions that the Chinese government demands in exchange for development assistance – including employment of their own workers – is important.

Migrants should never be blamed for the injustices of the system in which they find themselves working – governments are responsible for their context.

If workers are undocumented (human beings can’t be “illegal”), comprehensive research into how that happened is required. As many Filipinos know who have worked abroad, there are many reasons why a worker may become undocumented through no fault of their own.

It is also well known by those familiar with labour migration, that creating undocumented workers whom you can silence through the threat of deportation,
is a primary cause of the conditions in which workers are exploited and abused as cheap labour.

The principle of equal pay for equal work should be upheld in the Philippines, irrespective of the workers’ nationality, gender, race or religion.

All workers should have their rights protected and their contribution to development recognised.

We call upon the government to strengthen the commitment to build an economy where all workers rights and dignity are recognised, protected and upheld.

We call upon the government to ensure discrimination and inequality between workers are recognised as unacceptable and thus legally sanctioned.

We call upon the government not to exercise double standards in the treatment of workers who travel to the Philippines to work, compared to the international standards that we expect and demand for Filipino migrant workers overseas.
This is essential to prevent further undermining the rights and welfare of Filipinos working overseas.

Kanlungan Centre Foundation, Inc.
77 K-10 Street, East Kamias, Quezon City,
Website: http://www.kanlungan.org
Email: kanlungan2008@gmail.com

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