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Militants stress value of organization

03 August 2017

Representatives of various organizations show their colors.

By Vir B. Lumicao

Hong Kong’s biggest group of migrant workers looked back at its long history of struggle for workers’ rights as it marked its 32nd year on July 16 with a program on Chater Road.

Leaders of United Filipinos in Hong Kong stressed during the the gathering the importance of organizations, which they credited for the gains achieved by migrant workers.

These included getting the Consulate to open on Sundays, the abolition of forced remittances, and the annual review of domestic workers’ salary.

Ang mga tagumpay na ito ay hindi mararanasan ng Unifil Hong Kong at hindi niya magagawa nang siya lang mag-isa. Hindi niya po iyan magagawa kung hindi kasama ang karamihan ng mga migrante na naninindigan sa tama, na naninindigan sa hustisya, at naninindigan na dapat magkaroon ng tunay na pagbabago sa ating bansang Pilipinas,” group chair Dolores Balladares told some 300 workers who braved the intermittent rain to attend the program.

“Sapagkat ang mga nangyayari dito sa atin sa Hong Kong at maging sa ibang bansa, ang mga paghihirap na dinaranas ng ating mga migrant worker, ay resulta lamang ng malalim na mga problemang nagaganap sa Pilipinas,” Balladares said.

Unifil secretary general Eman Villanueva urged the workers to continue fighting for their rights and to join organizations to strengthen their ranks because the Philippine and Hong Kong authorities would not have listened to them individually.

“Dahil meron tayong organisado, progresibo, militanteng samahang namumuno sa ating pakikibaka para sa ating karapatan, sahod, at hustisya, nagtatagumpay tayo sa ating pakikipaglaban,” Villanueva said.

“Iyan ang halaga ng ating mga organisasyon. Kaya kung meron pa sa inyo diyan na hindi miyembro ng mga organisasyon, sumapi na kayo,” he exhorted the audience.

Reviewing the past three decades, Balladares said Unifil, with 29 workers’ groups under its wings, opposed the two-week rule introduced by the Immigration Department in 1987 as a new condition of stay.

“We were able to get the Hong Kong immigration to grant special consideration to specific cases and allow terminated workers to process new contract,” she said.

In the second decade, she said the migrant workers successfully drove the Philippine government to require employment agencies to return money they collected illegally in the guise of fees for various services.

The celebration started with a holy mass at 9:30am led by Fr Dwight dela Torre of the Philippine Independent Church.

Workers take advantage of the Mission for Migrants
Workers’ “Give Care to Caregivers” outreach on
Chater Road that coincided with the Unifil-Migrante
anniversary celebration on July 16. 
The mass was followed by cultural presentations by various groups, including Indonesian and Nepalese performers who awed their fellow workers with their folk dances.

Sporadic rain across Hong Kong on that day forced most migrant workers to spend their day off in the malls, bridges and passageways in Central while the hardy ones stuck to their positions on Chater Road.

But two events went ahead as set on Chater, the other being the Mission for Migrants’ quarterly “Give Care to Caregivers” program.

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