Migrant workers in Korea expose the Global Forum

on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Manila

as a tool to promote neoliberal anti-poverty and financing strategy


Philippine Embassy, Seoul, South Korea


October 19, 2008



The Katipunan ng mga Samahang migranteng Manggagawa sa Korea (KASAMMA-KO), the Migrante Chapter in Seoul, and other International Migrant Alliance Members, the Osan Migrant Center, the Migrant Trade Union and the leaders of the different communities who belong to the Employment Permit System workers held a picket rally on the 19th day of October at ten forty five in the morning in front of the Philippines Embassy in Seoul .



Photos courtesy of KASAMMAKO

(Katipunan ng mga Samahang migranteng Manggagawa sa Korea)





October 19, 2008
Seoul, South Korea

KASAMMAKO believes that GFMD is a device to sell neoliberal anti-poverty and financing strategy. It thrives on the poverty of Third World countries, directs them to institutionalize migration policies as a mechanism for development and development cooperation.

The GFMD as localized in the migration policies in South Korea, the government under President Lee Myung Bak has institutionalized labour migration as a means of off-setting the lack of labour resources due to its ageing work force. Although there is so much publicity about better working arrangements for migrant workers and other foreigners employed in the country, the government is up to flush out undocumented migrant workers to less than 100,000 out of over 200,000 in 2010. This has resulted to insurmountable anxiety, loss of income to thousands of migrant workers who were forcibly deported. Both the South Korean government and the Philippine government did not respond to the need to provide amnesty and eventual legalization of undocumented migrant workers. The rampant violations of human rights of migrant workers have not been addressed by both the sending and receiving governments of migrant labour.

Furthermore, the recent surreptitious agreement on the National Pension System and the Social Security System between the two governments intends to divest migrant workers of their hard-earned retirement benefits when finally approved by the Philippine Senate and the Office of the President of the Philippines. The NPS-SSS equalization scheme would eventually deprive migrant workers who contributed to the NPS a lump-sum refund of their contributions at the end of their contract. This is a scheme that would increase the funds of the NPS and the SSS but not benefitting directly the migrant workers. This should not be ratified in any way.

Moreover on the broader scale the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) which is ensuing in Manila this week is a lip service to the situation of the migrant workers worldwide. KASAMMAKO believes that the GFMD is characteristically against the interests of the migrant workers, on the following grounds:

• It hides under the cloak of universally-accepted concepts and principles such as the right to migrate, the “right to development”, “responsibility of government to manage” but peddles on “remittance as a survival mechanism for poor countries” and “temporary labor migration” as a “flexible way of meeting labor surplus and shortage across countries”.

• It avoids the notion that migration is an “alternative to development” because it will expose the undeniable fact that “neoliberal” globalization has failed miserably on its promise to usher development, especially in poor countries that has a vast pool of unemployed. It also unmasks the real intent of the current drive of First World countries and their institutions to exploit the migration phenomenon, the lucrative labor export programs and migrant remittances for the purpose of salvaging or propping up the collapsing economies, especially of semi-colonies and dependent countries.

• GFMD sells neoliberal anti-poverty and financing strategies by promoting the concept that “migration promotes development” and that the remittances of migrants helps the economy and therefore serves as a “tool for development”. It directs its efforts towards capturing the remittances of migrants to: a) ensure super profits of bank monopolies, and b) ensure that debt-ridden economies have a large currency reserve to pay off debts.

The underlying agenda however is to do away with capital pump-priming and ODA which donor countries and IFIs have so far been unable to meet for the past several decades. This exposes the fact that neoliberal globalization currently has not brought Third World countries any closer to the eradication of global poverty and unemployment.

• It promotes the concept of government responsibility to “manage migration” in order to augment state revenues and help cover deficits in foreign payments. Managing migration meant institutionalizing migration policies, adopting “policy coherence” in all its related branches of government, and by “aligning” migration policies with development policies domestically and internationally. This concept exposes that the underlying neoliberal agenda is for Third World countries to continue to tow the line of neoliberal policies (liberalization, privatization, deregulation, etc), policies that bred a vast pool of unemployed and underemployed, the very same policies that brought Third World countries heavily indebted and in a state of abject poverty.




• It employs post post-Washington strategy of “transparency” and “shared responsibility” thru “inter-partnership” with all “stakeholders” in the name of development but marginalizes the role of the most important stakeholder on this issue – the migrants themselves. Consultations and representation of migrant organizations in HLF are nil. Even in dialogues wih civil society organizations, migrant representation is merely a token.

While there is some truth that remittances temporarily alleviates the financial woes of families of migrants, this perverse notion signifies greater commodification of migrants and the perpetuation of conditions for cheap labor, not to mention the social costs of migration, especially on children and families.

KASAMMAKO exposes the so-called “development” thru migration and reliance on remittances as development tool are neoliberal anti-poverty and financing concepts and strategy that thrives on people’s exploitation and miseries of migrants, enhances labor flexibilization and therefore, greater commodification of labor, and only brings Third World countries into the quagmire of poverty because these do not address the root causes of underdevelopment and the massive migration of peoples from poor countries. We call on governments, NGOs and all migrant workers to work for a just economic development and unconditional respect for the rights of migrant workers.
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Contact persons:
Mr. Pol Par
Cell Phone: 010-9816-1425



October 19, 2008
Philippines Embassy
Seoul Korea

Yes! For Zero Remittance day! Hell to the GFMD and Scrap the NPS-SSS agreement. Uphold and protect the rights of migrants and refugees!

On the 19th day of October at ten forty five in the morning in front of the Philippines Embassy in Seoul the Katipunan ng mga Samahang migranteng Manggagawa sa Korea (KASAMMA-KO) the Migrante Chapter in Seoul and other International Migrant Alliance Members, the Osan Migrant Center, the Migrant Trade Union and the leaders of the different communities who belong to the Employment Permit System workers held a picket rally.



The speakers lambasted the Arroyo government for her inutility and her lips service to the migrant workers in Korea they specifically mentioned the NPS-SSS agreement which they claimed anti migrant workers, they said why do they want to get their hard earned money? Why not making a solution to the ongoing deportations and inhumane arrest to the undocumented migrant workers?

Pol Par stated that the Macapagal Arroyo only interested to the remittances of the Migrant workers in Korea, and they don’t even know the inhumane deportation of the Filipino migrants in Korea, that is why he announce that from now on the Kasamma-Ko will not remit any centavos to this government and they will extend this campaign to all migrant workers in Korea.

After the Picket they gave to the Embassy officials their official statement against the GFMD and the NPS-SSS agreement.




Philippine Social Security System and the Korea National Pension System

The Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Migranteng Manggagawa sa Korea or KASAMMAKO together with Filipino Employment Permit System (EPS) Workers Association (FEWA) and other Filipino organizations in South Korea opposed the eventual approval of the Philippine Senate of the Social Security System (SSS) and National Pension System (NPS) Security Agreement. The Philipine Senate’s approval of the SSS-NPS Security Agreement will terminate the payment of lump sum refund of contributions of migrant workers to NPS immediately after their three or five years employment in South Korea.

The guide to South Korea’s National Pension for Foreigners has the provision on lump-sum refund to wit:

In principle, a lump-sum refund is not paid to foreigners, however, in the case of foreigners falling under any of the following items, when they leave Korea, reach the age of 60, a lump-sum refund equivalent to the amount of contributions paid plus the fixed interest is paid to them, or to their survivors if they should die.

1. A foreigner whose home country has concluded a social security agreement with Korea to secure benefit rights by combining the insured period in each country.

2. A foreigner whose country grants Korean a benefit corresponding to a lump-sum refund.

3. A foreign worker whose visa falls under E8 (Employment for Training), E9 (Employment Permit System or non-professional employment), or H2 (Visiting employment).

With NPS-SSS Security Agreement between the government of South Korea and the Philippines, provision number 1 applies. This means that Filipino migrant workers can no longer avail of the lump-sum refund of their contributions to the NPS when their contract ends after three or five years. Their NPS contributions will be combined with their SSS contribution and if they are members of SSS they will benefit from it when they retire either at the age of 60 (optional) or 65 (mandatory); if they are not, their contributions are forfeited in favor of the government of South Korea.

Without the NPS-SSS Security Agreement provision number 3 applies. This is the present principle that applies to Filipino migrant workers whose visa falls under E8 and E9. Migrant workers whether members of SSS or GSIS or not can apply for lump-sum refund of their contributions to the NPS a month before their three or five-year contract ends.

KASAMMAKO believes that NPS-SSS Security Agreement is impractical for OFWs in South Korea because not all migrant workers are members of SSS, and if they are members of SSS and would want to have an uninterrupted contribution to ensure that they receive pension at their retirement, they can still continue paying their monthly contributions through their family members who are left in the Philippines.

Furthermore KASAMMAKO believes that the Filipino migrant workers in South Korea deserve to personally receive their lump-sum refund of NPS contributions and not through bureaucratic arrangements. The Philippine Senate approval of the NPS-SSS Security Agreement is a disservice to the migrant workers because it will forfeit the benefits that are due to them.


KASAMMAKO fears that once the SSS-NPS bilateral security agreement is passed by the Philippine Senate, migrant workers will not get their lump sum refund from NPS and that their contributions remitted to SSS as a result of the equalization scheme will be used for the whims and caprices of corrupt officials of the Philippine government just like what happened to OWWA funds, GSIS and SSS funds. The migrant workers who are the righful claimants of their pension contributions should get their lump sum refund at the end of their contract.


KASAMMAKO together with FEWA and other migrant workers organizations call on the Philippine Senate to:

1. Reject the NPS-SSS Social Security Agreement between South Korea and the Philippines so as to ensure migrant workers the continuing availability of NPS lump-sum refund after their employment period.

2. Protect migrant workers’ human and constitutional rights especilaly the right to be consulted with matters that directly affect them and the access to public information.

3. Ensure better livelihood for all Filipinos in their home country and avert forced migration due to unemployment, poverty and hopelessness.



October 5, 2008