PUBLISHED ON September 17, 2014
Dear Comrades, dear Friends,
At our event, we will bring together progressive participants from all over the world: from political parties through trade unions to civil society. Thereby, we provide a crucially needed forum for political discussions, networking and the exchange of experiences from actors in different world regions on the issue of decent work and migration. With the Philippines as a country whose significance in the area of labour migration is globally recognized, we are convinced that we have found a very appropriate location for the examination of our seminar’s topic.
Akbayan is very pleased to host the Progressive Alliance meeting in Manila. We are eager to share our party’s journey from protest to power. Akbayan is a party that emerged from the post-Marcos dictatorship social movements in the Philippines, fueled by the recognition of its mass organisations and individual members that a crucial component to changing the elite democratic nature of Philippine political economy is to challenge the ruling class’ bid for power in electoral contests. From our activist roots, we carry the values of social democracy, justice and equity to our engagements in the Philippine House of Representatives, various government agencies and local government units.
Among Akbayan’s core platforms is the platform for Decent Work that seeks to ensure the rights and welfare of workers across the country, and the rights of migrant Filipino workers. The Philippine economy has suffered the one-two punch of structural adjustment and economic globalization. Trade liberalization, privatization and the retreat of government to mere regulatory functions for the market have stifled economic growth and led to all but the collapse of industry. The increasing trend of labor flexibility has worsened the conditions for workers, contractual work dominates service sector practices, at the expense of security of tenure and workers’ rights to a life with dignity. This labor situation in the Philippines has pushed millions of Filipinos overseas, and globalization’s restriction of the movement of labor has given rise to a myriad of problems including labor and sex trafficking and abuse. As of 2012, the total number of migrant Filipino workers was 10,455,788 mainly across the Middle East, Europe, and South East Asia. It was reported in April 2014 that the total remittances from migrant workers was US$ 7.392 Billion. The irony of the situation lies in the fact that the income or remittances from workers disempowered and disenfranchised by the global economic order is precisely the lifeline of the Philippine economy.
We look forward to exploring strategies with different parties and social movements across the world in promoting decent work and ensuring rights and welfare of workers as we traverse borders, cultures, political and legal systems.
Chairperson of Akbayan Citizens Action Party, Philippines
Progressives from all over the world know that decent work is central to acknowledge human rights and dignity at the workplace. Despite global economic growth, unfortunately, we have seen an erosion of decent working conditions in recent years: low job security, poor wages, lack of social protection and union representation. And, on a global scale, migrant workers are among the ones most affected from this development. Whereas migrant workers contribute enormously to the economic development of home and host countries, they often suffer under untenable conditions: labour exploitation, discrimination, violent or sexual abuse, xenophobia and racism. They often have little or no access to social protection, are not informed about their rights or even excluded from labour legislation. Even though many of these workers are exploited, they mostly do not dare to seek justice, in fear of detention or expulsion.
At our seminar, we now seek to comprehensively deal with the issue of decent work and migration. In doing so, we also want to point the focus on how to foster progressive partnership across borders when it comes to the question of decent work worldwide. Therefore, we are very glad to announce that Walden Bello of Akbayan, Member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, will join the event and deliver his welcome speech on this partnership. As a particular advantage of the program, finally, four topic-related local area visits will be conducted to practically round off the schedule.
Kind regards and looking forward to seeing you in Manila