October 22, 2008
The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and other labor groups will lead a series of actions in the coming week as part of a parallel event to the official Global Forum on Migration and Development. In their activities, the main call of the militant workers will be “Migrant workers are humans with rights not commodities for sale.”
The activities started today with a big rally at the Rajah Solaiman Park in Malate, Manila that was joined by labor groups, migrant workers, NGO’s and advocates. Among the labor leaders at the rally was Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson, who stated that “With the clear and present danger of the financial meltdown and economic recession in the US going global, the rights and welfare of the migrant workers of the world are imperiled.”
Judy Ann Miranda, secretary-general of PM, added that “Workers oppose the government-led Global Forum on Migration & Development for its framework on migrant workers is ‘economic development’ not human rights. Behind its stated goals of ‘maximizing remittances and the benefits of migration’ is the opportunist attitude that migrant workers are commodities for sale not humans with rights.”
PM however did not support the call for a “zero remittance day” since according to the group it is not an appropriate tactic despite the good intentions of its planners. For PM, the key tactic in promoting migrant workers rights and welfare is the formation of a global movement of workers and unions without borders.
“While government has promoted labor export, it has left migrant workers at the mercy of the scams of private manpower agencies and the whims of host country regimes,” Magtubo asserted in reference to the recent beheading of a Filipino in Saudi Arabia.
Thus on Thursday, workers will picket the Saudi embassy in protest, especially since another Filipino migrant is scheduled for a similar fate in the coming days. “What can the Global Forum do to save migrants workers? The main problem it is trying to solve is how to profit from remittances not how to protect migrants,” insisted Miranda.
Workers protest actions will escalate in the coming days. On October 27, thousands of workers will hold a big rally. While on October 28, it will be the turn of women workers to protest.
The demands of the workers are first, end the policy of promoting overseas employment; second, stop the deregulation of the labor export industry; and third enforce the standard of decent work and pay, and the right to organize and bargain for all migrant workers.