Leave a Comment March 20, 2013
Filed under: Campaigns
By Patrick Camara Ropeta
LONDON – Filipina migrants from all walks of life united for an open forum to mark International Women’s Day (IWD) last March 8, aiming to create a platform for issues affecting women in the UK and the Philippines.
Dozens of female activists from various UK-based organizations gathered at the Hinsley Room in Victoria on March 9, in a bid to openly discuss and raise awareness of women’s rights and migrant issues of the day.
“We need to move forward to fight for our rights as women and citizens, we can’t just stand in the sidelines,” said Sheila Tilan from the Filipino Domestic Workers Association UK (FDWA-UK), which co-hosted the event with non-profit support group Kanlungan.
“It’s important for us to organize. We should know our rights. We have to mobilize and let all women from the UK to the Philippines to join in the campaign.”
Women’s rights have come a long way since the start of the feminist movement in the late 1900s, but for many women around the world, including vulnerable Filipina migrants, the struggle for equality, safety, and respect remains an ongoing battle.
This struggle was evident in “Au Pair”, an observational documentary screened at the event, which follows the lives of a small group of Filipina migrants in Denmark.
Released in 2011, the short film exposed the various problems faced by migrant women including job insecurity, legal issues, discrimination, and even loneliness away from family and friends.
Some of the Filipina migrants at the event have had similar experiences, including Zenaida Cabanatan, a 52-year-old housekeeper who was allegedly abused by controlling employers who tried to restrict her civil and employment rights.
“I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone. I didn’t have a day off. I worked long hours even until 12 midnight. They didn’t pay me enough either. And when I want to send money to my family in the Philippines, they would refuse and insist that they do it themselves,” she revealed.
Cabanatan, a Quezon City native who has been working in the UK for 14 years, claimed that her remittances were often delayed, which sometimes affected the life of her dependent child in the Philippines.
Furthermore, her employers allegedly attempted to send her back to the Philippines permanently with a one-way plane ticket, but she quickly realized the plot and managed to return to the UK.
She is now in the process of lodging a formal complaint against her former employers with the help of Kanlungan and Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
Speaking to ABS-CBN Europe, she added: “I was shocked. I kept wondering why they would so something like this to me. And then I found out through some advisers that I didn’t have insurance, which my employers keep a secret from me.”
Cabanatan’s story is just one of a number of cases involving vulnerable Filipino migrants in the UK, many of whom happen to be women.
According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), women made up the majority of Filipino migrants since 1993, peaking at 74% in 2004.
On average, 35,892 Filipino women emigrate each year, alongside 23,993 men, based on statistics from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) between 1981-2011.
Most migrants work abroad in search of a better future for themselves and their families, but many will find that life away from home is not always easy.
“We really need to discuss the issues. We are affected by so many issues, from work to the legal framework. We have lots to consider and I’m hoping that this forum will be a wake-up call for us,” said Florence Cayboen, a 47-year-old domestic worker from Baguio.
She added: “The hardest part is to organize women here in the UK, it’s not easy. I hope this could be a real starting point for us to unite as Filipino women of all ages and profession.”
Inspired by IWD, the group agreed to work towards launching a UK chapter of the Philippine women’s party Gabriella later this year.
Actress and campaigner Monique Wilson, who has been collaborating with Gabriella since 1999, attended the forum to lend her support and expertise.
“Filipinas are leaders. We just have to be given an opportunity and a platform to really find our voices, and to really exercise that voice,” said Wilson, who was elected as Director of International Affairs for Gabriella in 2012.
“What Gabriella represents is fighting for not just women’s rights and women’s freedom, but also national democracy which affects women in the end. Gabriella has been growing rapidly, it’s got international and regional chapters, and I think it’s time we have one in the UK because we have so many amazing Filipina migrant women here, and we have to continue to fight for issues that affect us, not only here but also back home.”
For the female activists, the aims are simple: to find a platform for women’s issues; to improve women’s rights through equality, respect and support; and to secure a better future for the next generations of young women.
And with the seed in place, only time will tell if their efforts bear fruit for the cause.
Leave a Comment March 14, 2013
12th of October 2011, Wednesday
Committee Room 16, House of Commons,
Houses of Parliament,
London SW1A 0AA
Kanlungan invites you to the launch of five  briefings based on its research into the effect of immigration changes on Senior Care Workers in the UK. This is to be held immediately after the meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Care sector in the UK. Through a panel discussion, the launch will address the role migrant senior care workers play in the UK, and the impact immigration changes have had on their lives and will have on the UK care industry.
Leave a Comment September 20, 2011
31 March 2010
Beneath the sash window of a care home in Wimbledon, lit by a shaft of spring sunlight, Lady Cicely Mayhew sits in the leather chair she occupies most days. Now 86, she reminisces about her adventures as the first female British diplomat, and her childhood growing up in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. It’s a trip down memory lane made all the more enjoyable by the attentive acknowledgement of Johannesburg-born nurse Irene Mahasela.
Leave a Comment March 31, 2010
Photo credit: Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN
16 March 2010
Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN,http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/pinoy-migration/03/16/10/pinoy-senior-carers-uk-file-judicial-review
LONDON – It is time to extend compassion and care to Filipinos who came to the UK to care for Britain’s elderly. This is just one of the goals of Kanlungan, a non-profit, charitable institution, in taking cudgels for embattled senior carers who were denied Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK.
Thirty-three year old Jenny Labaria was denied the application of ILR because of the 5-month gap in her work permit. She came to the UK as a care worker in 2004.
“(I’m) very stressed actually. Wala kang peace of mind. Financially nadi-drain na. Kasi nagbabayad ka ng fee for the solicitor. Yes, very unjust towards us,” said Labaria.
8 Comments March 16, 2010
Calling all care workers with gaps in your visa!
When the government changed the work permit requirements for senior care workers in 2007-2008, many care workers lost their right to extend their visa. A campaign was launched by Kanlungan and other organisations against these changes and the Home Office responded by offering concessions to those who needed to extend their work visas.
However, some of you ended up having a “gap” in your visa. The gap is the period between the date when your first visa expired and your new visa (gained as a result of the concession) began. Recently, some of those who gained visa extensions through the concession have applied for indefinite leave to remain since they have worked in the UK for five years. However, we have heard that some of these have been refused because of the “gap” in their visa. (more…)
4 Comments November 10, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
17 September 2009
Overseas Filipino Workers in UK gear up for protest on Arroyo visit:
- Protect the rights of senior care workers in the UK
- End Arroyo’s labour-export policy
Migrante UK will stage a picket protest on Friday, 18 September 2009 in front of the Riverbank Plaza Hotel at 3:15pm, where Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is scheduled to give a keynote speech about Philippines’ supposed economic resilience and growth amidst the global crisis during the Economist-led 2009 Emerging Market Conference.
“The supposed stability of the Philippine economy is paid for by the blood and sweat of Filipino migrants through taxations and remittances. How dare Arroyo brag about this when she did nothing to address the problems faced by Filipino migrants in the UK?” lamented Rafael Maramag, coordinator for Migrante UK.
Migrante UK, together with the Kanlungan alliance of Filipino organizations in the UK, are actively campaigning for the right to UK settlement of Filipino senior carers who have fallen victim due to the changes in immigration rules. Kanlungan is set to file a judicial review against the UK Border Agency to challenge the latter’s rejection of settlement applications of affected senior carers. (more…)
Leave a Comment September 17, 2009
Kanlungan’s public forum on Citizenship Act last Saturday 12 September 2009 had a good turnout. With over 50 people in attendance, the venue was packed with guests who were keen to learn about the new act on Naturalisation and Immigration.
Mr. Steve Symonds of ILPA gave a concise yet clear sharing on naturalisation provisions in the new act covering subjects on probationary citizenship; active citizenship, which could vary the length of the probationary period; and other new or amended requirements before a naturalisation application: absences in the UK, continuous employment, family association and qualifying leave.
Moreover, Symonds also stressed prospects to further influence how or whether to implement the Act, which is envisaged to be commenced by the UK Government in July 2011 with impending UK General Elections set next year playing a major factor. Meanwhile, UKBA released two online public consultations in relation to aspects of the naturalisation process, which we are all encouraged to respond:
1.Earning the right to stay: A new points test for citizenship http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/consultations/221878/earning-the-right-to-stay/
Responses due 26 October 2009
2.Charging for immigration and visa applications http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/consultations/221878/charging09/
Responses due 1 December 2009
During the open forum, students also posited queries on Tier 4 of the Points Based System and sponsorship licence. Over all, Kanlungan’s forum identified human rights issues of old and new migrants under the current trend of immigration policies.
The forum was attended by representatives from Migrants’ Rights Network (MRN), Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), Cordillera Student Association (CSA), Igorot UK, UNISON and member organisations of Kanlungan Alliance.
Full appended text of Steve Symonds’ lecture here.
Kanlungan’s Judicial Review for Senior Carers
Mr. Raman Purewal of Aston Brooke Solicitors, a law firm which Kanlungan has been working closely with on this endeavour, set out the background of the proposed group Judicial Review for Senior Care Workers (SCW’s).
He highlighted the ‘gaps’ incurred by SCW’s in their visas and work permits in applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain which are being used as basis of refusal by the UKBA. He stressed that these ‘gaps’ are a direct result of the changes made by policy changes of the UKBA and therefore not the fault of the SCW’s themselves.
Furthermore, Purewal put forward guidelines in determining gaps in SCW’s visa or working permit. Some SCW’s who were present had the chance to enquire firsthand about their respective cases.
If you are a Senior Care worker under work permit, please contact Kanlungan.
For full text of Kanlungan’s proposed Judicial Review, click here.
4 Comments September 14, 2009
5 September 2009
Some 3,500 Filipino care workers in the United Kingdom failed to get their work permits renewed due to a series of immigration and work permit policy amendments implemented by the UK Border Agency. (more…)
2 Comments September 5, 2009