Building Global Worker Communities: The Case of Filipino Migrant Workers

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: Booth 41
Oral Presentation
Ellene SANA , Center for Migrant Advocacy, quezon city, Philippines
Building global worker communities: The Case of Filipino Migrant Workers

Filipinos overseas are not wanting of associations or organizations to belong to whereever they may be. Commonplace are social organizations around common professions, sports, faith/religion; also based on geographic regions or ethnoliguinstic origins in the Philippines to name a few. These formations are meant to provide support to the members, enhance their profession, religion/faith, ethnolingusitic identities and the like. Rarely do they get in conflict with the laws and policies of the host countries; neither were they inclined to have sustained campaigns critical of policies in the Philippines.

Fastforward, 4 decades later, we see an expanded and varied landscape of migrant communities. In Hongkong, migrant domestic workers are joinng and forming their unions and merging into coalitions of different migrant nationalities.

In the Gulf Cooperating Council (GCC) coutnries where organizing of workers –local or migrants - in whatever form and orientation is almost a taboo, there is no stopping the migrant Filipinos from organizing cyber communities . Their “membership” knows neither boundaries nor time limits.

In other locations such as Taiwan, what is feasible are support groups such as Church/faith-based migrant formations that are spread out around the country. Every Sunday, these formations touch base with more than a thousand Filipino migrants who congregate in the churches for the worship service. Off and on the pulpits, migrant issues are raised; activities and campaigns are undertaken.

Inreasingly, these new forms and ways of organizing migrants pave the way for more direct involvement of migrants on issues that impact them; for more consolidated actions and responses and for support and solidarity between migrants of one country and with migrants of other nationalities. Indeed, migrant worker organizing is the future, once that challenges the boundaries of nation-states in more ways than one. #