Jun. 28  2022
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Statement from UNITY of Filipno Migrants in Korea

The migrant workers comprise the biggest industrial reserve army of the cheapest and most exploited labor in Korea because they fall in the pit of cheap docile enclaves of workers. Worse, they do not even recognize them as workers.

Source  :  UNITY of Filipino Migrants in Korea

Protect the rights of the Migrant workers, Abolish the Exploitative Trainee System and Ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

The migrant workers comprise the biggest industrial reserve army of the cheapest and most exploited labor in Korea because they fall in the pit of cheap docile enclaves of workers. Worse, they do not even recognize them as workers.

Through the Trainee System, the Korean capitalists are insured of a steady flow of migrant workers whose condition they can very much exploit for their maximum advantage. The presence of undocumented workers further propels their profit at a very minimal production cost.

Being undocumented, the migrant workers are placed in a more precarious situation. Though they earn more than the trainees by working in various companies, their basic condition remains the same if not worse. As undocumented become prone to abuse and difficulties, they are even treated as criminals by the Korean government as shown by the crackdowns on suspected undocumented workers periodically done by the Police, Immigration and the Ministry of Justice. This act already criminalizes migrants whose only intention in staying in Korea is to survive and feed their families back home.

The problems related to the provision of industrial accident compensation are also serious matters for the undocumented workers. This was partially improved when the government made a measure to allow the undocumented to avail such compensation on condition that they will return back to their home country after they get the compensation and after treatment for those who meet accidents.

Supposedly, the Labor Standard Law, Trade Union Law, Minimum Wage Law, and Industrial Accident Compensation Law are applicable to all migrant workers without any discrimination. Reality proves otherwise.

Migrant workers and immigrants are most often blamed for the social ills like unemployment and slashing of social welfare experienced by the local working class. The capitalists and their states make use of migrants and immigrants as scapegoats for the crisis, which they themselves create. Capitalists are making all the efforts to divide the ranks of regular workers and the contractual and contingent workers in order to weaken their collective actions.

Presently, it is very obvious that migrant workers are being used as scapegoats in the midst of the ongoing labor restructuring in Korea. The labor unrest in Korea only shows the massive discontent among the people. In order to make it appear that they are taking actions to resolve the national crisis, the government conducted an all-out publicized crackdown and arrest by the police and immigration on suspected undocumented workers. Once again, we are made to bear the brunt of the crisis that we ourselves are severely affected.

Though it is clear that the industrial and technical trainees are valuable labor power in much needed industries in Korea, yet, the Korean government treat them as merely trainee deprived of the right and privileges as workers. As trainees, they are not provided with the basic rights of workers that include just wages, unionizing and collective action. Trainees are merely given an allowance instead of wage. They are also forced to work during holidays or if not, during their day-offs. Most of them are also compelled to work over time. They also experience frequent incidence of industrial accidents and they are not entitled to compensation. Management would even send someone to physically abuse them and give threatening remarks and forcibly deny their wages.

Migrants are always under threat of being fired if they complain about their difficult situation. The trainees are compelled to bear this situation in order to stay on to their jobs because of the excessive brokerage fee they paid just to go to Korea. In most cases, they borrow money in order to pay the agencies. Because of this situation, many trainees opt to run away and become part of the increasing number of undocumented workers in Korea.

The problem of migration is brought about by the imposition of neoliberal policies by imperialist countries, to Third World nations, with the help of local compradors, as manifested in the continuing systematic and massive labour export policies of sending countries, and that the fundamental causes of the growing numbers of undocumented migrants can be rooted out in the economic, political and cultural condition in their home as well as the need for cheap labor in the host countries;

The trainee system is one of the forms of exploitation of migrant workers; it is an exploitative system used by the government to deprive migrants of their rights and privileges as workers; that it breeds undocumented workers due to the systems exorbitant recruitment fees; and that some sending and receiving governments under neo-liberal globalization, such as Philippines, Japan, and Korea have adopted the trainee system to prevent migrant workers from becoming permanent ones and control their stay in the host countries;

Currently the Korean Government pursue the criminalization of undocumented workers and blatantly violate their basic human rights, including children, by imposing fines, arresting, detaining and deporting them without due process;

We therefore call on the Koreran government to take actions to protect the rights of the undocumented migrants to work legally as stipulated in the international conventions and human rights treaties; We also call on President Kim Dae Jung to sign and ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

The government of Korea should and must accept the fact that migrants has a dual role in the host country. One of which is their contribution in the economy as a source of cheap and docile labor and on the other hand as an active consumer who purchases goods and avail of services of banks, restaurants, small stores, and so on. But this contributions remains unrecognized and instead their rights are continuously suppressed.

The recently new method of crackdown per area is none other than but the maneuver to hide the hideous attacks to the migrants thus violating our rights.

We call on both the Philippine Embassy officials in Korea and the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to act immediately on the cases of Filipinos in Korea and provide them with all the necessary legal and welfare assistance.

We likewise demand that the Korean government should immediately stop this crackdown on undocumented migrants and instead, allowed migrants to change their status from being undocumented to a documented ones without imposing any penalties.

We DEMAND that Korean Governmet repeal the exploitative Trainee System that is inimical to migrants from all nationalities in Korea and to immediately pass legislation safeguarding and promoting migrant rights, welfare and interests.

UNITY of Filipino Migrants in Korea

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