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APMM message of support for ETU-MB and KCTU protest action

Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) together with other migrant organizations and local advocates held a picket demonstration in the Korean consulate in Hong Kong.

Source  :  The Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants

03 May 2002

The Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) would like to express its strong support and solidarity with the Equality Trade Union Migrant Branch (ETU-MB) and the Korean Confederation of Trade Union (KCTU) in launching campaign against the continuing attack on the rights and well-being of migrant workers in South Korea.

The on-going "Voluntary Registration" which started last March 25 and will last until May 25 is another scheme of the South Korean government to create division and confusions among the ranks of migrant workers and their advocates. It offers moratorium on penalties while on the other hand putting a limit on the duration of the stay of the undocumented migrants to a maximum of one-year. And those who failed to comply after the specified period of registration will face stiffer penalties.

Aside from its divisive scheme, it intends to criminalize migrant workers for being undocumented and will provide them the justification to conduct series of massive crackdowns, arrest and deportation.

Sad to say, the governments of sending countries like the Philippines are silent about the issue. According to KASAMMAKO, an alliance of Filipino migrant organizations in South Korea, they received information that the Philippine Embassy have no position on the issue and instead they open the Embassy office during Sundays in order to accept and process passport applications.

Their silence is actually a sell-out of Filipino migrants in South Korea and again it shows their interest in collecting fees rather than ensure the safety and protection of rights and well-being of its own people abroad. They did the same thing in 1997 at the height of the Asian Financial crisis when local businesses are forced to close their shops and factories and migrants are loosing their jobs and are forced to return home to the Philippines, the Philippine Embassy in Korea raised the amount of passport fees and temporary travel documents. Without the strong opposition of the Filipino migrant organizations that led to the formation of KASAMMAKO, the imposed increase in fees cannot be reversed to its original level.

For more than a decade now, migrant workers provided the Korean economy with its much needed source of cheap and docile work force. And through the sweat and tears of migrant workers, it creates super profits for the local and foreign monopoly businesses.

Now that the economy of South Korea is still reeling from crisis, they will need more skilled but cheaper and docile labor force to prop up the economy. Part of the scheme is to reduce the number of undocumented and replaced them by trainees. And due to much lower wages compared to the local workers doing the same job, these trainees will be forced to runaway and become undocumented migrants.

Thus, the condition that breeds undocumented migrants are not being addressed by this voluntary registration. Thus, the issue of protection on the rights and well-being of migrants remains the principal issue.

APMM recognizes the efforts and initiative of the ETU-MB and the KCTU in extending its solidarity support to the migrant workers by struggling for the legalizationof all migrant workers in South Korea and by forging strong solidarity betweenmigrants and local workers.

Time and again, with the worsening condition and continuing attack on the rightsand well-being of migrants, they don't have any other choice than to organize their ranks and launch militant actions.

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