May. 29  2023
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We are writing to protest the appalling crackdown on migrant workers that is now underway in Korea. We understand that as many as 130,000 people are at risk of deportation.

Source  :  BASE21

by Christian / Base21 Media Activists

A delegation of OCAP members went to the Korean Consulate in Toronto on November 21 to demand justice for migrant workers in Korea and the release of Muhammad Bidduth and Jamal Ali. A member of the Phillipine Women Centre of Ontario also attended and read out a statement of support (see below).

A letter of protest was delivered to the Consulate and was received by a rather nervous member of the Consular Staff, who stood behind a locked gate and a phalanx of Toronto Police.

OCAP pledges its continued support for the struggles of migrant workers in Korea and sends its deepest respect and solidarity to all our comrades in the ETU.

Audio from the action is available on the internet at the following address: -->


21 November 2003

Greetings from the Philippine Women Centre of Ontario, the Philippine Network for Justice and Peace, the Filipino Workers' Support Committee and the Philippine Solidarity Group of Toronto.

On behalf of Filipino migrant organizations, human rights advocates, and solidarity groups working for the rights and welfare of migrant workers, we express our grave concern regarding the current problem of undocumented migrant workers in South Korea. We deplore the manner by which the South Korean government is trying to solve this problem by ordering an intensified crackdown on migrant workers in the country.

The problem of runaway foreign workers is common and consistent not only in Korea, but also in Hongkong, Taiwan and Japan. In South Korea and Japan in particular, the trainee system or program is a common source of cheap and docile labour. This system is inherently systematic in its exploitation and abuse of foreign workers.

Studies by the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants indicate that wages of trainees in South Korea range from an equivalent of roughly US$176.50 to US$398.89 a month. Aside from very low wages, the trainees suffer from long working hours, are made to work on holidays without pay and experience delayed allowances. They are forced to work in poor working and living conditions, given inadequate food, are physically, verbally or sexually abused by employers. A number of them are not extended for another year of work even if they have passed the required examinations. They are also not allowed to join unions. Despite the frequent industrial accidents, they are not entitled to compensation.

It is no wonder then that migrant workers run away from their work. If they should decide to complain they are not assured of an efficient and fair grievance mechanism and their employers usually do not rehire them. Out of fear that they may lose their job and will be repatriated if they dare to complain, they often feel forced to face the risk of becoming undocumented workers even if their wages are lower than that of ordinary workers and they work under worse conditions.

Moreover, they are also afraid that jobs would not be available to them should they opt to go back to their home countries. In the Philippine case, the crisis of a backward agricultural economy within the ambit of neoliberal globalization ensures that poverty, unemployment, landlessness and hunger will even intensify.

Filipino migrant workers are forced to work abroad because of the worsening economic situation in their own homeland and to cope with the basic needs of their family. Employers hire foreign workers to amass more profits. In South Korea, here in Canada and elsewhere, migrant workers contribute to the economy not only as consumers, but also primarily through their cheap labour. Now a huge crackdown on migrant workers is underway in South Korea. The United Nations Convention on Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families speaks of the "protection of migrants against arbitrary arrest and detention, and that migrants shall not be subjected to measures of collective expulsion with cases being examined and decided individually." Still many have been arrested and are to be deported. One still recalls the mass detention and deportation of Filipino and Indonesian migrants that happened recently in Sabah, Malaysia.

Undocumented workers, trainees, and stranded workers are doubly exploited and oppressed. Though the UN Convention on the Rights of Migrants and their Families is a victory that migrant organizations can use to further advance the cause for migrant's rights and welfare, the convention shall fall short if it does not include ALL migrants and also address their issues. And it shall remain to be just a piece of paper if policies of both sending and receiving countries remain unjust, discriminatory and exploitative.

The trainee system should therefore be totally abolished and a general amnesty for all undocumented workers should be granted. For the United Nations, it should include migrant workers disguised as trainees in Japan and South Korea in the coverage of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Today, even as we stand in solidarity with our migrant sisters and brothers in South Korea, let us forge even broader, stronger and more solid unity with workers and peoples across the world and in all fields of struggle, so as to withstand and defeat the onslaughts of global capitalism and build a just, peaceful and truly prosperous world.


Dear Sir:

We are writing to protest the appalling crackdown on migrant workers that is now underway in Korea. We understand that as many as 130,000 people are at risk of deportation.

Your Government is quite prepared to ensure that the labour of migrant workers is placed at the disposal of the employers. However, it seeks to ensure that this huge labour force is prevented from having any meaningful rights either as workers or as residents of Korea. They are to be exploited for a few years and then driven out so that they will remain as vulnerable and exploited as possible.

You have compounded this criminal abuse of the migrant workers by a legal assault on those who stand up and organize in the face of it. The Equality Trade Union is forced to contend with a repression that brings shame on your Government. Two outstanding activists in the struggle for justice for migrant workers, Muhammad Bidduth and Jamal Ali are now in jail facing lengthy sentences and deportation. We condemn this without reservation.

We demand that you release these two men and meet the demands of the ETU for basic justice for those they represent. Your ugly denial of human rights for migrant workers will not be covered up. It will be exposed and confronted in cities across the world until you grant these workers the decent lives they have paid for through their labour.


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