Hongkong-based women migrant workers celebrate International Women's Day:

Call for Job Protection, HK Pinays decry GMA’s ‘sabotage’ of rights and livelihood of Filipino women

 

Manila march

 

 

March 8, 2009

 

 

 

“Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo turned her back on Nicole and upheld VFA, unleashed state violence against women activists, and implemented policies that do not help us cope with the current crisis but instead put us in a worse situation. GMA is definitely no sister to Filipino women in the Philippines and abroad."

This was declared today by Buhay Bangcawayan, secretary-general of Gabriela Women’s Party in Hong Kong (GWP-HK) as hundreds of Filipino women marched to the Philippine Consulate General carrying demands for genuine economic relief and protection of migrant’s rights, a stop to state-sponsored violence against women as well as scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). The action was part of the Gabriela-led actions in the Philippines and elsewhere to commemorate the International Women’s Day.

 

   
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Photos courtesy of Gabriela Women’s Party in Hong Kong (GWP-HK)
           
           

 

Press Release
08 March 2009

For reference: Buhay Bangcawayan
Secretary-General, Tel. No.: (852) 97111673

“Gloria is no sister to Filipino women”
HK Pinays decry GMA’s ‘sabotage’ of rights and livelihood of Filipino women

“Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo turned her back on Nicole and upheld VFA, unleashed state violence against women activists, and implemented policies that do not help us cope with the current crisis but instead put us in a worse situation. GMA is definitely no sister to Filipino women in the Philippines and abroad."

This was declared today by Buhay Bangcawayan, secretary-general of Gabriela Women’s Party in Hong Kong (GWP-HK) as hundreds of Filipino women marched to the Philippine Consulate General carrying demands for genuine economic relief and protection of migrant’s rights, a stop to state-sponsored violence against women as well as scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). The action was part of the Gabriela-led actions in the Philippines and elsewhere to commemorate the International Women’s Day.

“Throughout her term, GMA has done nothing but sabotage the rights of Filipino women in the Philippines and overseas. While Filipino women are reeling from job loss, wage reduction and more economic and social displacement, GMA implements her ‘economic sabotage package’ that further commodifies women and puts them in a condition vulnerable to abuses, exploitation and violence,” she remarked.

Bangcawayan pointed out that the various policies implemented by the GMA government to OFWs were all geared towards making women OFWs more marketable, deprive them of needed services and protection, and milk women OFW dry through government charges.

GWP-HK listed down overcharging of recruitment agencies and the negligible services that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) as the crucial concerns of women OFWs amid the present financial crisis.

“Instead of curbing overcharging, we now have the POEA guidelines that added training as one more dubious fee for OFWs and the ban on direct hiring that forces us to deal with unscrupulous recruiters. Meanwhile, OWWA is still guided by its Omnibus Policies that cut many of its direct services to OFWs and open up the OWWA fund for GMA’s arbitrary use,” she remarked.

Bangcawayan said that OFWs are worried that the P330B package of the government will be taken from OWWA and other people’s funds like the SSS and the GSIS.

“This government is the epitome of apathy and hypocrisy and would implement anything with impunity to serve its own interest,” the GWP secretary stressed.

On top of the ‘economic sabotage’ , Bangcawayan said that the continued servility of the GMA government to US especially to its military programs has sanctioned the violence against women of the so-called war on terror of the US. These, she said, included the rape and abuses committed by US troops under the Balikatan joint exercises and the GMA government’s very own Oplan Bantay-Laya that has victimized civilians, many of whom are women.

“The fate of Nicole, raped by a US serviceman who now goes practically scot-free, is what Filipino women face under the VFA. Meanwhile, the recent murder of Rebelyn Pitao, a school teacher in Mindanao, by suspected military elements has made it clear that state fascism and disrespect to women’s civil and political rights persist,” she added.

Bangcawayan said that the demand of women in the Philippines for justice to Nicole, Hazel (a Filipina raped by a US military man Japan) and to Rebelyn and other murdered and disappeared women activists is echoed by women OFWs in Hong Kong.

“GMA has no right to even identify herself with today’s commemoration because she has never served the interest of the oppressed Filipino women. The International Women’s Day is historic for it showed the militance of women in our struggle for rights. GMA is a target of this continuing resistance,” she concluded.#

 

     
     
     
           
     
 
     
     
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Photos courtesy of United Filipinos in Hong Kong  (UNIFIL-HK)
           
     
     
 
     
     

 

March 8, 2009
Press Release

References:
Eni Lestari, spokesperson (contact no. 96081475)
Dolores Balladares, co-convenor (contact no. 97472986)

HK-Based Women Migrant Workers Call for Job Protection on Women’s Day
HK Government Should Prioritize Workers, urges AMCB

Workers first.

This is the rallying call of women migrant workers in Hong Kong as they hold a march-demonstration today, March 8, to mark the International Working Women’s Day.

According to the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body (AMCB), the demonstration expresses the position of women migrant workers in Hong Kong to the HK government in the midst of the worsening financial crisis.

Said Eni Lestari, spokesperson of the AMCB, “In the light of the economic crunch gripping Hong Kong, it is the workers, both local and migrant, who should be given top priority in terms of protection – to their jobs, wages and rights.”

Lestari lamented the worsening state of employment in Hong Kong as the number of workers put in the axe continues to swell. “The massive lay-offs not only in the financial district but in other fields of work are truly worrisome. As we are reeling from the crunch, it should be the HK government’s responsibility to serve, uphold and protect the workers above all others, including business,” she said.

While claiming victory for the recently-suspended levy for employers of foreign domestic workers, Lestari still raised concern on the number of violations being committed against women migrant workers. “Aside from the systematic discrimination we experience, many of our sisters still get abused or violated physically and sexually. There should be more protection measures to be undertaken to ensure our safety and security.”

A position paper is submitted with a list of demands to the HK government once the protesters reached the Central Government Offices in Central. The march started from Victoria Park where all women migrant workers and other support groups assembled. Filipino workers rallying in front of the Philippine Consulate joined the march in Admiralty.

The list of demands includes: 1) Job protection for all workers in Hong Kong; 2) Wage increase and protection for all workers; 3) Abolition of the New Conditions of Stay or Two-Week Rule; 4) Legislation of minimum wage; 5) Abolition of the levy; 6) Lifting of the ban on Nepali workers; 7) Stop underpayment of foreign domestic workers; 8) Stop racial discrimination; and 9) Stop violence against women in the workplace.

The position paper was submitted in the light of the yearly minimum wage review being undertaken by the HK government.

“Women migrant workers, especially foreign domestics, have borne the brunt of the economic crisis and have always been the first targets of the government in their ‘share the burden’ mantra," according to Lestari.

“This should not happen anymore. An attack on migrant workers is an attack on women,” concluded Lestari.

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Asian Migrants Coordinating Body (AMCB)
Members:
Association of Sri Lankans in Hong Kong (ASL-HK)
Asosiasi Tenaga Kerja Indonesia - Hong Kong (ATKI-HK)
(Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers)
Far-East Overseas Nepalese Association - Hong Kong (FEONA-HK)
Filipino Migrant Workers' Union (FMWU)
Friends of Thai - Hong Kong (FOT-HK)
Thai Regional Alliance (TRA-HK)
United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-HK)

c/o APMM, No. 2 Jordan Road,
Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

Tel no(s): (852) 3156-2447, 2314-7316
Fax no(s): 2735-4559
E-mail: amcb.hk@gmail.com
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