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Leave a Comment April 10, 2013
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Leave a Comment April 10, 2013
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
Leave a Comment October 23, 2011
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
To listen to Face the Facts, click here
10 January 2011
BBC’s ‘Face the Facts’ program aired an expose on the abuse and
exploitation of care workers in the UK. A Filipina and Romanian girl
were interviewed, both giving harrowing accounts of their treatment
here by rogue employers and agencies.
“Face the Facts” is the sister program of “You & Yours”, which has also
covered exposes on care workers and NVQ training scams, and does
in-depth analysis of certain subjects.
Many thousands of foreign migrants work in the UK care sector, a heavy
proportion of them being Filipinos.
Presenter John Waite (above) interviewed two care workers who claim to
have suffered abuse by employers, and from the regulator who wants the
power to regulate the care home industry – where not only the residents
are vulnerable to abuse.
The show features a Filipino nurse brought in by an agency in the
Philippines which charged her 500,000 Pesos (around £8000) to arrange a
job for her in the UK.
However, on arrival she was told to report to a different care home,
not identified by the BBC, where she was underpaid and forced ‘to sleep
on the floor for six months’.
The show did not specify the type of visa she applied for or whether or
not her own agency in the Philippines was regulated by the POEA, a
Philippine government agency which controls job recruitment and
Martin Green CEO of ECCA said overseas care workers are still needed in
the care sector, where rates of pay are low compared to other
industries. He blamed the government and local authorities, which
commissions care in the private sector, for keeping rates paid to
providers too low to pay staff higher salaries.
Also featured is a Romanian care worker who obtained employment by
registering on a NVQ course and applying for a Yellow Card – a special
category of student visa for Romanian and Bulgarian EU workers who can
enter the UK freely but do not enjoy the same rights as other European
She said her employers made her do washing as well as care work and
‘forced her to work 50 to 60 hours per week’ without full pay – which
is more than she was allowed and would have left little time for
She also said her NVQ training company ‘did not send an assessor’,
although she did not say whether or not she attended any classes during
her time at the college, which did not take part in the programme.
Face the Facts host John Waite called for agencies to be regulated by a
system along the lines of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA),
which mainly covers companies using temporary workers such as cockle
pickers and those operating in the agricultural sector.
A spokesman for the UK government said that Employment Agencies
Standards Inspectorate (EAS) already regulates the industry and setting
up a new layer of regulation would be expensive and cumbersome. But
many would argue that whilst it is impossible for the UK authorities to
regulate agencies based overseas, employers could be compelled to
source staff only through properly UK registered agencies.
At present employers, including the NHS, often cut out British agencies
preferring to ‘go direct’ to overseas agencies as they think this will
save them money – and perhaps provide HR staff more opportunity to go
on overseas recruitment trip or ’jollies’ as they are known in the
On the all important immigration and visa front, Immigration Advisers
in the UK are fully regulated (unlike visa agents in the countries when
most of the care staff originate) by the OISC which lays down strict
guidelines on fees and professionalism.
Employment Agencies in the UK are not allowed to charge applicants a
fee for finding them a job or so called ’work placement fee’, which is
still legal in many countries. New regulation is not needed to solve
the problem of migrants being exploited, just a recognition by the
government of their own regulated British professionals, agencies and
Martin Green representing care home operators in the UK pointed out
that the care home industry is heavily regulated, but also subject to
financial constraints, these are in the form of maximum payments by
local authorities in respect of fees to care home operators.
4 Comments January 15, 2011
18 December 2010
LONDON – Filipino human rights film “Dukot” ends its European tour here following a string of public screenings and talks around the continent.
Launched in The Netherlands in October, the film toured Europe for over a month with stops in Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy, before concluding in England around Human Rights Day on December 10.
The London screening was attended by a multicultural crowd of concerned citizens, from seasoned activists to young professionals without prior knowledge of human rights issues. Consul General Maria Theresa Dizon-de Vega from the Philippine Embassy in London was also in attendance to support the event.
Directed by Joel Lamangan with an all-star cast, “Dukot” follows the story of a young couple from the Philippines who were abducted, tortured, abused and slaughtered by armed government crooks, seemingly because of their involvement with political activism.
“We want to highlight human rights abuses and violations in the Philippines, and “Dukot” chronicles this in dramatic form. It’s a powerful way for people to appreciate it, rather than just reading news stories or opinion pieces,” said Mark Dearn from Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP), who co-organized the event.
He added: “It’s a problem that’s endemic to Philippine politics. The victims are anybody who decides to challenge the state, and that can be anybody from armed rebels, all the way to the average student. I don’t think you can get anything more pressing than when a government oppresses its own citizens in that way.”
The screenings were part of an ongoing international awareness campaign for human rights issues in the Philippines, particularly from the last 10 years. Prior to its European tour, the film has been shown in various countries in East Asia and North America, and was an official selection in the 2009 Montreal Film Festival.
“[The film] functions very well in the level of raising awareness for those who aren’t aware of these issues,” explained Dearn. “Awareness and global attention seems to have an effect on the incidences of enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings. When Global Awareness focused on this issue, there was a drop-off in the number of enforced disappearances and killings. Unfortunately, this has risen up again towards the end of Arroyo’s regime.”
According to a report by Philippine-based independent organization Karapatan, thousands of innocent activists have fallen victim to human rights violations under the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a trend that seems to have continued through to the new Aquino administration (see table below).
“[Dukot] is a good educational tool. It gives me knowledge of the reality of being an activist. I think there is nothing wrong in trying to voice out our opinions, and that is what we call freedom of speech,” observed Josefa Aaliyah Cassandra, a UK-based Filipino health professional and equal rights activist, who was moved by the film’s message.
She added: “We have to help those activists in the Philippines, and try to educate them that our voices can still be heard by expressing them in a more civilized manner. But also for the government to understand that there is nothing wrong in trying to voice your opinion or campaigning for what should be right, especially for the oppressed.”
Though definitive solutions to these problems remain elusive even to campaigners, there is an overwhelming sense of urgency to their message of acknowledging and addressing human rights issues, a call for action directed towards fellow Filipinos, the international community, and the Philippine government itself.
“If we’re truly going to be a democracy, these sort of things shouldn’t really happen, and the army shouldn’t really have the sort of power that it seems to have,” explained Fernando Santiago from nonprofit organization Kanlungan, co-organizers of the London event.
He concluded: “Having the authorities in the Philippines be called to answer for the fact that the world is watching, and wants change, and wants the Philippines to join the rest of the democratic world, these things have to be addressed and not just be swept under the carpet.”
The activists are urging the newly elected President Benigno Aquino III, who himself comes from a family with firsthand experience of human rights abuse, to address these concerns in the hope of making positive changes in socio-political affairs in the Philippines.
Recorded Human Rights Violations in the Philippines, 2001-2010
|UNDER GMA PRESIDENCY||UNDER AQUINO PRESIDENCY|
Source: KARAPATAN, 2010 Year-End Report on Human Rights in the Philippines (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights)
4 Comments December 19, 2010
17 December 2010
A temporary cap on the number of skilled workers from outside the EU allowed into the UK was introduced “unlawfully”, the High Court has ruled.
Home Secretary Theresa May introduced the cap this summer as an interim measure ahead of a permanent cap.
But a legal challenge to it was upheld with judges ruling that ministers had “sidestepped” Parliamentary scrutiny.
The Home Office said this did not imperil its flagship immigration policy but Labour said it was in “chaos”.
The BBC’s Home Affairs Correspondent Danny Shaw said the ruling was an embarrassment and a setback for the coalition but was not a fatal blow to its plan for a permanent cap on non-EU migration.
The ruling has nullified the current temporary cap, meaning it is no longer in force.
But ministers can introduce a new cap when Parliament returns in January. This would come into effect immediately but MPs and peers would be able to challenge it within 40 days, the BBC understands.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said current immigration levels are not sustainable and called for net migration – the difference between the number of people entering the UK and those emigrating – to be reduced from nearly 200,000 a year to “tens of thousands”.
As a first step, ministers introduced a temporary cap for non-EU skilled workers of 24,100 a month in June, in line with a Conservative election commitment.
But the measure was challenged by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) and English Community Care Association, which was concerned over the position of immigrant care workers.
In Friday’s ruling, Lord Justice Sullivan and Mr Justice Burton concluded that the home secretary had not gone through the proper parliamentary procedures before implementing the cap – which took effect without a vote in Parliament.
“The secretary of state made no secret of her intentions,” they stated. “There can be no doubt that she was attempting to side-step provisions for Parliamentary scrutiny set up under provisions of the 1971 Immigration Act and her attempt was for that reason unlawful.”
As a result, it said no lawful limits were now in place for two tiers of job applicants from abroad.
The English Community Care Association said the temporary cap – which reduced by 5% the number of non-EU work visas issued – could have a potentially “catastrophic” effect on the care sector.
As 13% of those who work in care homes come from outside Europe, it said thousands of staff from the Philippines, India and South Africa could be forced to quit their jobs and this could damage continuity of care.
‘Not thought through’
Vacancies created would not be filled by British staff, it said, as there was not sufficient demand for the jobs.
It argued the cap had been introduced with “complete disregard” for care providers and their staffing needs.
In response, the Home Office said it was still “firmly committed” to reducing levels of net migration.
“I am disappointed with today’s verdict,” Immigration minister Damian Green said, stressing ministers would launch an appeal if “there were grounds” to do so.
“We will do all in our power to continue to prevent a rush of applications before our more permanent measures are in place,” he added.
But Shadow Home Secretary Ed Balls, for Labour, said the policy “may have sounded good before the election but it wasn’t properly thought through and didn’t get the scrutiny it deserved”.
He added: “David Cameron’s flagship election promise to bring net migration down to the tens of thousands has now been watered down from a firm pledge to just an aim.”
The level at which the permanent cap will be set has been a source of tension within government, with Lib Dem ministers calling for the regime to be flexible as possible so as not to prevent firms from being able to recruit highly skilled labour.
Leave a Comment December 17, 2010
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