Monday, October 27, 2008

Migrant workers Speak Out in Montreal

Montreal, Sunday, October 26, 2008 -- As part of International Migrants' Alliance (IMA) - Canada's nation-wide activities to mark their opposition to the UN-sponsored Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Manila, more than fifty migrant workers, refugees, immigrant textile workers and their supporters came together in Montreal in a Speak-Out which exposed the "true cost of migration".

The Tamil Assembly of Montreal, PINAY – Filipino Women's Organization of Quebec, the Immigrant Workers Centre, the South Asian Women's Community Centre and several other groups participated in the event. The speakers and and audience members systematically debunked the claim promoted by the GFMD that "forced migration can be a model for development". Local journalists were also present. Rita Costa, of the Movement Against Rape and Incest, was the bilingual MC.

The Montreal event coincided with other IMA-Canada events in Vancouver, British Columbia and Toronto, Ontario to support the International Assembly on Migrants and Refugees (IAMR), a migrant-led counter conference organized at the same time as the GFMD in the Philippine capital by the International Migrants' Alliance (IMA).

The afternoon session began with a presentation by Joey Calugay on the United Nations-sponsored (and imperialist-backed!) GFMD and the reasons why the migrants themselves decided to organize the IAMR and call for solidarity actions around the globe.

Joey is a member of the Filipino Workers Support Group of Montreal and a staff organizer for the Immigrant Workers Centre. He also sits on the national organizing committee of BAYAN-Canada, an Alliance of progressive and anti-imperialist Filipino organizations across Canada.

Tamil refugees Speak Out!

Three members of The Tamil Assembly then exposed the wave of deportations that is hitting their community, many members of which are accused unjustly of being "terrorists". They presented an emotional appeal for an immediate moratorum on the deportations of their community members back to Sri Lanka. They explained that many Tamil refugee claimants are beginning to see their claims denied and are facing deportation to a country where conflict still exists and where Tamil's are being targeted. Gross human rights violations are being perpetrated against Tamils under the US-ideology of the "war on terror", which is used by the Sri-Lankan government to try to quell resistance.

Canada, which has major investments in Sri Lanka and in south Asia, has been backing the Sri Lankan government and the speakers explained that there is even talk of allowing Canada's warships to dock in Sri-Lankan ports. As a partner on the war on terror, Canada apparently views the enemies of the Sri Lankan government as their own and as result appears to be "discriminating against Tamils seeking refugee status in Canada". Apparently bending to pressure from the Sri Lankan government, Canada has now said that, "it is safe for Tamils to go back".

The participants at the Speak Out offered their full support to the Tamil refugees. (For more information on the situation of Tamils the speakers suggested the web site:

Live-in caregivers Speak Out!

Josephine Calugay, a former live-in caregiver, explained how her group PINAY was organized in 1991 to address the issues of Filipino women and live-in domestic workers in Quebec. Since its inception, PINAY has been leading in the struggle to ensure that the rights and welfare of Filipina migrant workers under the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) is upheld, she said.

Josephine explained that Canada today continues to widen its temporary workers program at the same time it makes its laws stricter to prevent most migrants from ever getting permanent status in Canada. Workers under the Federal government's LCP are also impacted by these policies. She said that the government of the Philippines boasts about its own Labour Export Policy, which was organized to systematically export Filipino workers to other countries. "The Philippine government claims that this will solve the problem of unemployment in our homeland and will enable families receiving the remittance money to live better. But we migrants know the devastating long-term impact that these policies have on our lives and that of our families, and how it has not led to true development for the people of the Philippines," Josephine concluded.

Migrant factory workers Speak Out!

Gurvinder Kaur, a former worker at the textile factory, L'Amour Inc, talked about the campaign of laid-off workers from that company to get just compensation.

Gurvinder is originally from India and worked for the Montreal-based company for several years before being laid off with hundreds of her co-workers in 2007. The majority of the workers came from countries like Haiti, the Philippines, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. She explained that just like thousands before them, they and their families were forced to leave their countries in search of a better life abroad. For many of them, the temporary or seasonal work that was available in their home countries was not enough to survive on.

Gurvinder said that after having settled as immigrants to Canada, they worked loyally for this sock-making company, helping to make L'Amour one of the most competitive in the world. But after years of labouring and creating profit for this company, she said, they were unceremoniously laid-off. Also the company did not even bother to help the workers apply for retraining and reintegration programs which would have helped them find other jobs or helped them survive during this difficult period.

Companies like L'Amour have found it more profitable to move their operations into the Third World, benefiting and making super profits from the exploitation of cheap labour, Joey Calugay said. "The story of the immigrant workers of L'Amour is a story of displaced peoples. Development does not exist for them and their example shatters the myth that forced migration can lead to development both for their countries of origin and for themselves as workers", Joey concluded.

For photos of the event, please follow the following links : and

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

UN envoy to attend counter assembly to GMFD

ANGIE DE LARA, Migrant Watch - Bulatlat

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants will attend the International Assembly of Migrants and Refuges (IAMR), a counterpart assembly to the Global Forum and Development (GMFD).

Launched by Migrante International and the International Migrants Alliance (IMA), the IAMR will formally convene on October 28 to 30 at the Bayview Park Hotel along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.

Formed in June this year, the IMA is a global alliance of 112 migrants' organizations from 25 countries. Its members come from grassroots migrants like domestic workers, factory workers, agricultural workers, undocumented migrants, workers in the service sectors, and even political refugees.

Jorge Bustamante, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants will deliver a message at the opening of the IAMR.

Bustamante will also attend the Joint Regional Consultation with the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD). The IMA will take the opportunity to bring to the attention of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants cases of migrants including 29 overseas Filipino workers in death row, stranded OFWs and massive crackdown of undocumented Filipino workers in Sabah, Malaysia.

Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante chairperson and IMA secretary general said, "We from IAMR believe that the real agenda of the 2nd GFMD assembly sponsored by the Arroyo government is only to strengthen the labor export program. This is one of the biggest challenges and the reason why the migrant workers all over the world are resisting the GFMD.

Regalado said the IAMR assembly will give voice and space for migrants who have been isolated from the GFMD.

The IAMR assembly delegates and speakers will come from different countries such as South Africa, Germany, Mexico, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Canada, Argentina, USA, India, Malaysia, Italy, Taiwan, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines.

"In this assembly, we will be exposing the real face of migration," Regalado said.

Representatives from each organization will talk about their experiences and struggles as migrants. The delegates will also tackle how they will cope up with the global crisis, said Regalado.

Meanwhile, Emmanuel Villanueva, vice chairperson of Filipino Migrant Workers Union-Hong Kong and secretary general of the United Filipinos in Hong-Kong (UNIFIL-HK) said they will also discuss the situation of domestic helpers, their campaign for higher wages and migrant workers' rights. Villanueva has been working as a domestic helper for more than 17 years now.

Villanueva said,"While Foreign Affairs Undersecretary and Co-Chairperson of GFMD Esteban Conejos is broadcasting that the protection and welfare of migrants is the main concern of the GMFD, they have isolated us from the assembly."

Villanueva questioned the GFMD's concept of "migration for development". "Bakit kailangang paghiwa-hiwalayin ang pamilya upang paunlarin ang isang bansa? Bakit kailangang magkaroon ng migrasyon para sa kaunlaran ng mga bansa? Bakit kailangang iwanan ng mga magulang ang kanilang mga anak at bakit kailangang iwanan ng mga anak ang kanilang mga magulang para magkaroon ng kaunlaran?" (Why do families have to break up just so the country will develop? Why does there have to migration for the development of countries? Why do parents have to leave their children and why do sons and daughters have to leave their parents to attain development?) asked Villanueva.

He opposed the idea that the GFMD is making the Philippines as the role model for migration. "Our experience of more than three decades of exporting labor was their basis for an efficient labor export program. But until now there is no development for us migrants and for our families."

Violators of migrant rights

Villanueva criticized the composition of GFMD. He said that delegates will come from countries that are rabid violators of migrant rights.

He said that the US has implemented a massive crackdown on undocumented migrants. In Europe, Villanueva said that the new rules will affect undocumented migrants.

He also hit Malaysia's inhumane treatment of deportees from the Philippines and Indonesia. (Deportees from Sabah Endure Inhumane Treatment) "Let us not forget the South Korea, and the treatment they did to the leaders of Migrant Trade Union (MTU) who are citizens of Nepal and Bangladesh.

"If the GFMD is for us migrants why is it that no migrant worker will represent us in that assembly?" Villanueva said the GMFD is only after their remittances.

The World Bank record shows that world remittances reach more than US$337 billion excluding remittances sent through non-formal channels.

Global crisis

Dr. Carol Araullo, chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-New Patriotic Alliance) said that the ongoing financial crisis has exposed that the Arroyo government's labor export policy is of no good.

She said that migration will never be the answer to the development of our country, and remittances cannot sustain all the needs of our country. "With the financial crisis now, more and more Filipinos will seek work outside the Philippines but will only find it difficult, and more migrants will be forced to go back home," said Araullo.

"When they come back, no jobs are waiting for them. The fruits of their hardship have been invested in small business ventures, the daily needs of their family and their children's education," said Araullo.

Araullo said the government should pay attention to the generation and creation of jobs, especially decent and high quality jobs in the country.

She said the financial crisis will generate more conflict. "There will be a clash not just economically but socially and politically throughout the world. Our migrants will find themselves in a more difficult situation."

There will also be international actions against GFMD in South Korea, Middle East, Hong Kong, New York, Canada, the Netherlands and in some parts of Europe.

For Filipino migrants, GFMD stands for 'Gloria Forcing Migrants to Death.' - Bulatlat

Monday, October 20, 2008

IMA calls for "Zero Remittance Day" on October 29

International Migrants Alliance (IMA), an alliance of migrants composed of 112 organizations worldwide will declare October 29, 2008 as a “Zero Remittance Day" to signify its opposition to “forced migration and systematic exploitation of cheap labor."

The symbolic protest action would coincide with the opening of the Global Forum on Migrant Development (GFMD) that would be hosted by the Philippines in Manila.

GFMD being an elitist, anti-migrant forum aimed to perpetuate the greater commodification of migrants worldwide. All over the globe, the growing migrants' movement views the GFMD as a sham assembly with the sole objective to consolidate and legitimize attacks on migrants' rights and welfare.

Through the Zero Remittance Day, the organizations would be sending out united message of protest from millions of migrants worldwide “who are forced to leave their homelands and subject themselves to cheap labor and exploitation out of desperation."

Toronto: Canadian Migrants Challenge to the GFMD

The inter-governmental Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) holds its second session in the Philippines this year. It will be in Manila on October 28-30, 2008. The GMFD will bring together government representatives from close to 200 countries, big business interests and their allied non-government organizations to discuss labor migration and development. But in the midst of global crisis this would likely be a market place to buy and sell migrants and attempt to squeeze more from migrant labor in the guise of promoting development.

At the same time Migrants from all over the world will gather in and will speak in their own behalf at the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR) challenging the GFMD.

Toronto will be part of the nationally coordinated educational forum and part of the internationally coordinated action that challenges the GFMD.

The Forum will be on Sunday, October 26, 2008, 12 noon to 4 pm

It will be at the Wellesley Community Center, 495 Sherbourne St (cor Wellesley, 5 min south of Sherbourne Subway)

for more info: 647-205-5908
Migrante Ontario, member International Migrants' Alliance

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Montréal -- Les migrants et les réfugié-e-s lèvent la voix! / Migrants and Refugees Speak-out!

Les migrants et les réfugié-e-s lèvent la voix!

Pour contrer le Forum mondial sur la migration et le développpement
Un évènement de l'Alliance internationale des migrants-Canada

Dimanche le 26 octobre 2008 à Montréal
15h - 18h
6767 Cote-des-Neiges (Cente communautaire Côte-des-neiges)

Prendront la parole: Une réfugiée tamil, un travailleur agricole étranger, une aide familiale résidente étranger, un travailleur du textile immigrant. Avec présentations culturelles, collation et breuvages.

Informations: AIM - Canada (Montréal) +1514-342-2111

Membres de l'AIM Montréal: Centre communautaire des femmes sud-asiatiques, Comité d'appui aux travailleurs et travailleuses agricoles, PINAY, Centre d'appui aux Philippines, Mouvement contre le viol et l'inceste, Femmes de diverses origines pour le 8 mars, Centre des travailleurs/euses immigrants


Migrants and Refugees Speak-out!

This event is part of a world-wide response by migrant workers to counter the UN-sponsored Global Forum on Migration and Development to be held in Manila at the end October.
Organized by the International Migrants Alliance - Canada

Sunday, October 26, 2008 in Montreal
3pm - 6pm
6767 Cote-des-Neiges (Cote-des-Neiges Community Centre)

Speakers: Tamil refugees, migrant farm workers, live-in caregivers and immigrant textile workers. With cultural presentations, food and drink

Info: IMA-Canada (Montreal) +1514 342 2111

IMA members in Montreal: South Asian Women's Community Centre, Comité d'appui aux travailleurs et travailleuses agricoles, PINAY, Centre for Philippine Concerns, Mouvement contre le viol et l'inceste, Women of Diverse Origins for March 8, Immigrant Worker's Centre

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Migrante International plans own assembly in place of 'elitist' migration forums

Connie Bragas-Regalado
10/09/2008 | 08:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A militant group on Thursday said the twin gatherings scheduled at the end of the month in Manila to discuss global migration concerns are "elitist."

So in place of these "sham proceedings," Migrante International said it is sponsoring, together with the International Migrants Alliance (IMA), a third gathering on October 28-29 at the Bayview Park Hotel in Manila.

Migrante said the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR) will be "a genuine gathering of migrants and migrants organizations from various countries of the world."

"It is in the IAMR where the migrants will gather to discuss our own issues. It is where we will speak of the horrors, the struggles, the tragedies that forced migration has caused us, our families and our societies. It is where we will demonstrate how forced migration cannot lead to genuine development," the group said in a press statement on Thursday.

The IAMR will coincide with the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) being hosted by the Philippine government, with hundreds of participants from various countries, global organizations and migrant groups.

Ten days before that gathering, however, Migrante International will be spearheading protest actions in the Philippines and abroad "to condemn the sham gathering."

The GFMD is an annual international conference on migration and development issues, following the High Level Dialogue on Migration organized by the United Nations (UN) in New York in September 2006.

This second GFMD will be held on October 27 to 30 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila. The so-called "civil society days," will be held on October 27 and 28 while the government meeting on the 29 and 30.

While the GFMD appears to include a wide spectrum of society, Migrante said "a miniscule percent of them (GFMD participants), if at all, can even claim to represent us the migrants who toil abroad everyday and whose fates are being shaped without our consent."

It said even the so-called "civil society days" have excluded migrants and their families, including the thousands represented by Migrante.

"We are direct witnesses to the palpable elitism of the GFMD through its exclusion of the millions of overseas Filipinos, as well as migrants of other nationalities, from this event," Migrante's Connie Bragas-Regalado said.

The group was also not impressed with the "parallel gatherings" like the People's Global Action (PGA) and the Civil Society Dialogue spearheaded by the Ayala Foundation, which claim to complement the GFMD.

The PGA is an alternative movement organized by the civil society coalition Philippine Working Group (PWG) which will be held on the October 22 to 30.

"Unlike the organizers of these (parallel) gatherings, (we) condemn its (the GFMD) agenda of forcing migrants to bear the burden of keeping sagging economies like that of the Philippines afloat," Migrante said.

It said it is sure that the GFMD "has no intention whatsoever to speak for (their) interests."

"Instead of strengthening basic local industries to provide work for its citizens, the GFMD aims to pressure governments to encourage their citizens to work abroad," it said.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

MIGRANTE-B.C. Solidarity message for the Launching of IMA-Canada

MIGRANTE-B.C. sends its warm greetings of support and solidarity to all the organizers and attendees of the launching of International Migrants Alliance (IMA)-Canada.

Migrante-B.C. is a mass-based organization of Filipino migrants and their families that asserts that Filipino migrants deserve the greatest promotion and protection of their rights wherever they are.

An estimated number of 10,000 Filipinos come to join the ranks of the 328,000 Filipinos who have settled in Canada. We see this number increasing after the Canadian government signed an agreement with the Philippine Government to open its doors to temporary foreign workers. While these temporary foreign workers fill up the shortage of skilled labour in Canada, they are also vulnerable to exploitation, as is evidenced from their oppressive working conditions, with the present Live-in Caregivers Program as a good example.

It is imperative that all migrants and refugee organizations unite and rely on their own abilities to educate, organize and mobilize the broadest number of migrants and refugees for the advancement of their rights and welfare. Only through a strong alliance under IMA-Canada can this struggle be forged and fought.

MIGRANTE-B.C. stands united with you in ensuring that the human rights and welfare of migrant workers, refugees and their families are protected.

MIGRANTE-B.C. looks forward to strengthening links with the IMA-Canada as we advance the struggle of migrant workers in Canada.


109-4155 Central Boulevard
Burnaby, B.C. V5H 4X2

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Groups seek ‘overdue’ justice for death of OFW in Canada

MANILA, Philippines - Several migrant groups are still seeking justice for an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who was killed in Canada in 2007.

The Filipino Migrant Worker’s Movement, Migrant Ontario and Migrante International on Wednesday said in a statement that two men charged with first degree murder are set to appear again before a court in November for the death of Jocelyn Dulnuan, a 27-year old from Ifugao province.

Dulnuan, a live-in caregiver, was killed in her employer’s mansion in Mississauga, Canada on October 1, 2007.

“We cannot allow the murder of Jocelyn Dulnuan to fade away. We will continue to seek justice for her," said Jonathan Canchela, chairperson of the Filipino Migrant Workers' Movement in the statement.

He said all those responsible for the death of Dulnuan must be prosecuted, including Philippine government officials who are possibly guilty of criminal neglect in addressing the cases of victimized migrant workers.

Marco Luciano of Migrante Ontario said the Philippine government under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo must perform its duty of providing assistance and addressing the plight of thousands of OFWs in foreign countries like Canada.

“All legal and diplomatic avenues should be exerted so that her death does not become another statistic in a list of unsolved murder cases," said Migrante International Chairperson Connie Bragas-Regalado in the statement.

According to Migrante Ontario, an estimated 13,000 caregivers were deployed to Canada under the LCP in the past year, 90 percent of which are Filipinos.

Dulnuan. came to Canada under the Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP), a federal government program that allows Filipinos to come as caregivers. The program requires workers to live in the homes of their employers for two years to perform domestic and caregiving work.

It also said the Philippines, as the second largest exporter of people in the world, pushes more than 3,000 Filipinos daily to seek employment overseas, eight of which return back to the Philippines dead every day.

Migrante International records said there are least 23 cases of unsolved murders against Filipinos abroad since 2002.- Kimberly Jane Tan, GMANews.TV