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					National Migrant Justice Gathering
    Building Solidarity, Taking Action

        York University, Toronto
           June 10-11, 2006

                   A joint initiative of:
     KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
     National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada
                    STATUS Campaign
                      UFCW Canada
                                           Statement of Unity
We live in a time of contradictions, where goods, services and capital are free to move, but people are not. Trade
liberalization as well as the privatization of essential goods and services has increased migratory pressures by
destroying the jobs, livelihoods and even the lives of many across the global South. As more and more
disadvantaged people seek to migrate, Northern governments have begun to control and manipulate migration
flows and borders in ways that respond to the needs of capital, not people. Canada’s elitist immigration points
system, together with its inadequate and inequitable resourcing of visa posts in the less industrialized world,
represent severe obstacles for the poor, especially the racialized poor and women, who often have reduced
access to the educational qualifications and life experiences required for “skilled” immigration.

While the barriers to legal permanent migration continue to be largely insurmountable for the majority across
the global South, there has been a parallel growth in temporary work programs and so-called “illegal”
movement across borders. Such trends represent an unacceptable dehumanization, “commodification”, and
criminalization of people. For sending countries, migrants are an export product and ever more lucrative source
of wage remittances. For receiving countries, workers are a cheap and easily disposable source of labour, who
are discarded or sent home when their services are no longer required. These precarious and largely racialized
migrant workers and non status people are vulnerable to various forms of exploitation and regularly face abuses
of their rights and dignity. Canada, as a receiving country and perpetrator of underdevelopment around the
world, is effectively complicit in sustaining this present day equivalent of slavery.

We, migrants and migrant justice advocates, affirm the dignity and human rights of all migrants and their
families and demand that Canada ensure the full and effective protection of such rights, in accordance with the
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.
In acknowledging the systemic racism and sexism that define and inform global economic systems and migrant
flows, we hereby express our commitment to work together in order to call our governments to account for
unjust policies that lead to displacement and contribute to the root causes of migration. We denounce Canada’s
complicity in unfair trade and misguided development policies that deepen social and economic inequalities,
cause environmental devastation, and fuel and sustain conflict.

We oppose the profiling of newcomers as security threats, through heightened border controls and related
interdiction efforts. Such controls do not address the structural causes of migration and serve to push migrants
into the hands of smugglers and traffickers. Considering the growing numbers of migrants being forced to
engage in such irregular immigration practices, and the more aggressive deterrence policies and practices that
characterize the border regimes of the global North, it is clear that more effective protection mechanisms for
migrants are critical and necessary in order to address the increased risks of migration.

We call for fair, equitable and compassionate immigration policies and practices that recognize the multiple
causes of forced migration and reflect an understanding and appreciation of real societal and labour needs in
Canada. It is unacceptable to deny migrants legal entry, deny them access to permanent status, disenfranchise
and marginalize them so as to deny them any meaningful political voice, and then to exploit those same people
to fulfill a structural need for cheap and compliant labour.

We demand respect for migrant rights. All migrants, regardless of their legal status, deserve just wages, fair
treatment from their employers, and full and equitable entitlement and access to the health, social, educational
and legal services and supports that are available to all Canadians. No migrant should face coercion,
discrimination, or be required to perform “un-free” labour as every individual possesses an inherent human
dignity that Canada, as a country that prides itself on its international reputation as a leader in human rights,
should honour and respect.

         *This document is a statement of participants in the National Migrant Justice Gathering.
                  It has not yet gone through a process of organizational endorsement.

                                                         Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering        i

                               Many thanks to:

                     Those who helped to write this report:

                              Evelyn Encalada Grez
                                  Rusa Jeremic
                                Eugénie Pelletier
                                 Mark Thomas
                                 Rachel Warden

                    The migrant justice steering committee:

         Cecilia Diocson, National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada
                   Heather Macdonald, United Church of Canada
                    Maya Shapiro, Justicia for Migrant Workers
                         Michael Kerr, STATUS Campaign
                            Stan Raper, UFCW Canada
                           Tanya Chute Molina, KAIROS

          Those who offered financial and in-kind assistance to support
                   the National Migrant Justice Gathering:

         CAW-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democrary at Ryerson
                      Centre for Refugee Studies (York)
               Centre for Research on Work and Society (York)
                               CERLAC (York)
                   CUPE ON International Sol Committee

KAIROS gratefully acknowledges the support of our funding partners in this work:

                             CAW Social Justice Fund
                            Canadian Labour Congress
               The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation
              Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association - OECTA
                            Steelworkers Humanity Fund

                                         Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering   ii
                                      Table of Contents

1. The National Migrant Justice Gathering…………………………………………………………..….2

2. Program………………………………………………………………………………...………..……3

3. Identifying Common Concerns: Panel Overviews……………………………………………...…….4

      a) Globalization and Migration
      b) Forced Migration: Beyond Refugees
      c) Precarious Status, Precarious Rights
      d) Building Alliances and Solidarity

4. Recommendations: Work Group Reports…………………………………………………………...10

      a) Statement of Unity
      b) Networking
      c) Advocacy Priorities
      d) Globalization

5. Advocacy Delegation Report…………………………………………………………….………….13

6. Dialogues across borders: Reflections on the National Migrant Justice Gathering………………....15

7. Presentation notes………………………………………………………………………………...….17

      a) Ramon Bultron, Globalization and Migration
      b) Claudia Noriega, Globalisacion y migraciones
      c) Veena Verma, Precarious status, precarious rights:
         The Mexican and Caribbean Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program
      e) Marco Luciano, Empowering the Filipino Canadian Community
      f) Patricia Perez, Defending the rights of agricultural workers in Quebec
      g) Jean Lashley, El Sembrador
      h) Ramon Bultron, The Grave Attack on Migrants’ Rights Taught Us One Thing:
         Get Organized! Build Alliances!

8. Other resources……………………………………………………………………………………....42
              I. The National Migrant Justice Gathering
The National Migrant
Justice Gathering
brought together over
one hundred migrants
and migrant justice
advocates from
across the country to
lay the foundations
for a national migrant
justice network in
Canada. This unique
and ground-breaking
initiative generated
rich dialogue and
sowed the seeds of
new alliances,
gathering together the
concerns of live-in
caregivers, seasonal
agricultural workers      Dialogue between migrant workers and advocates was a key element of the National
and non-status            Migrant Justice Gathering. Photo: UFCW.
immigrants, as well
as the advocacy experiences of migrant                        for joint action on shared advocacy
organizations, faith groups, unions, community                objectives.
activists and university researchers. Strong ♦ To lay the foundation for a lasting migrant
participation from British Columbia, Ontario, and             rights network in Canada.
Quebec was complemented by the international ♦ To draw on the experience of international
perspective of delegates from Hong Kong,                      partners to broaden our analysis, inform our
Mexico, the Philippines, Taiwan and the United                strategizing and energize our networking
States.                                                       efforts.

The National Migrant Justice Gathering was a          The two day program offered many opportunities
joint initiative of KAIROS, the National Alliance     for participants to share their experience and
of Philippine Women in Canada, the STATUS             expertise through panel presentations and
Campaign and UFCW Canada. The goal of the             discussions, work groups and planning sessions.
organizers was to increase the impact of existing     The immediate results of the gathering include a
advocacy initiatives, many of them sector             statement of unity, expressing the collective
specific, by working to build alliances and           concerns of participants in the gathering, and
develop a united voice on shared concerns. To         concrete     recommendations     for    network
this end, the steering committee identified three     development and joint action.
main objectives for the gathering:
                                                      A delegation from the conference, composed of
♦    To gather together groups involved in            Canadian and international participants, took the
     advocating for migrant rights in order to        statement of unity to Ottawa June 13-15 for three
     share experiences and analysis, to identify      days of meetings with Members of Parliament
     common concerns and explore opportunities        and bureaucrats. These lobby meetings opened up

                                                     Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering   2
opportunities for more formal presentations in the    Recommendations for network development and
fall of 2006 to the Standing Committee on             joint action will be further developed by an
Citizenship and Immigration and the Standing          expanded migrant justice steering committee,
Committee on Human Resources, Social                  composed of the conference organizers and other
Development and the Status of Persons with            interested participants. The migrant justice
Disabilities. A more detailed report from the         steering committee will propose a more detailed
advocacy delegation is provided later in this         networking and action plan to the network in
report.                                               coming months.

                                         II. Program
       National Migrant Justice Gathering: Building Solidarity, Taking Action
                       June 10-11, 2006, York University, Toronto, Ontario

SATURDAY, JUNE 10                                     SUNDAY, JUNE 11
8:30   Registration                                   10:00 Panel 4: Building Alliances and
9:00   Welcome
                                                      11:00 Buzz groups
9:30   Panel 1: Globalization and Migration:
       Driving forces                                 11:20 Plenary discussion: What kind of a
                                                      network do we want to build?
10:00 Question and Answer
                                                      Arrival of larger group representing affected
10:30 Break
                                                      communities (migrant farm workers traveling in
11:00 Panel 2: Forced migration:                      from outside the city, live-in caregivers and non-
      Beyond refugees                                 status persons with limited time to spare)
11:30 Small group discussion:                         12:30 Welcome and Lunch
      Sharing our stories
                                                      1:30    Learning from each other
12:00 Lunch                                                   a) Speakers from affected communities
                                                              b) Response: Speaker on being an ally
1:00   Panel 3: Precarious status,
       precarious rights                              2:00    Brief presentation of unity statement and
                                                              networking/action proposals to larger
1:30   Discussion and Action Proposals
                                                              group. Open microphone for feedback
2:00   Break                                                  from affected community members. Other
                                                              action proposals.
2:30   Work groups:
       1) Statement of unity                          2:40    Music/cultural presentation
       2) Envisioning a network
                                                      3:00    Break with food
       3) Issue-based action proposals
                                                      3:30    Video screening - Borderless (KAIROS
4:00   Plenary
                                                              video on living without status)
5:00   Wrap-up                                                Dialogue with film maker
7:00   Public event: Migrants and Activists           4:00    Closure
       speak out!
       (Ryerson University: Jorgenson Hall)

                                                     Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering      3
         III. Identifying Common Concerns: Panel Overviews
A)         Globalization and Migration                         free trade all contribute to creating extreme
                                              1                poverty and harsh living conditions. Thus, many
                (Rusa Jeremic, KAIROS)
                                                               countries in the Global South do not have any
The National Migrant Justice Gathering began                   anything to sell or export, other than their own
with analysis of the forces of globalization and               people. In this way, migration has become
their impact on migration. KAIROS partners                     institutionalized. For 26 countries, remittances are
from Mexico and the Philippines shared the                     the biggest flow back into the economy. The
experience of two countries where migration has                Philippines is a prime example of this, where the
become the key to economic survival, both for                  government has created bureaucratic structures to
individual families and for the nation as a whole.             facilitate the out-migration of 3,000 people daily.
A representative of Canada’s largest labour
organization, the Canadian Labour Congress,                    Governments – both in the North and the South -
rounded out the discussion with reflections on the             rely heavily on forced migration. Moving people
negative impact of corporate globalizations on                 has become big business. It is people that are
labour standards for all workers.                              paying the cost of neoliberal globalization.

Claudia Noriega from Centro Tepayac in Mexico
shared how current regional migratory flows are
due to economic crisis rather than war. Since the
signing of NAFTA in 1994, increasing numbers
of Mexicans have been forced to migrate in order
to ensure their families’ survival.

Since 9/11, immigration has also become an issue
of national security for the U.S. This has led to a
dramatic increase in militarization of the border,
predicted to worsen through the deep integration
agenda currently pursued by Mexico, Canada,
and the US. Commonly known as NAFTA Plus,
it involves more than 300 hundred negotiations to
create new border regulations and criminalize

Militarization does not only come in the form of
increased border security. Free trade agreements
like NAFTA work to repress social movements,
and disempower communities. That is why
resistance and collaboration are so important.

Ramon Bultran of the Asia Pacific Mission for                    Migrants from Central America ride the rails through
Migrants spoke of neoliberal globalization as the                Mexico on a perilous journey North in search of work
root of much forced migration. Overproduction,                   and an economic future for their families. Photo source:
unjust debt burdens, financial speculation, and                  Centro Tepeyac.

    All panel summaries are written by the panel moderator.

                                                              Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering              4
The final panelist, Karl Flecker of the CLC,           different meaning to globalization.               As
highlighted how corporate globalization is bad for     Guatemalan Bishop Ramazzini once stated:
all workers since it lowers global standards,
creating precarious working conditions and              “the human face of globalization is solidarity.”
pitting workers against workers. For migrant
workers, at the bottom of the ladder, the situation    B) Testimonials of forced migration
is even worse since they must deal with low                       (Eugénie Depatie-Pelletier,
standards, no protections and fewer rights.             Action Canada for Population and Development)

                                                       This panel brought together the personal stories
“Corporate globalization = A 16                        of three migrants: a live-in caregiver, a seasonal
year old working 18 hours a day for                    agricultural worker and a non-status immigrant.
$0.22 an hour in Indonesia to make                     Their detailed and moving testimonies gave
$150 shoes sold by non-unionized,                      listeners an inside look at what it can mean to
                                                       migrants to leave behind family and friends only
part-time workers without health
                                                       to face often difficult, dangerous, and unjust work
benefits in the shopping malls of                      conditions in Canada.
North America.”
                                                       Leticia, a former domestic worker, talked about
Karl Flecker, CLC                                      the particular vulnerability of women migrants
                                                       under the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP).
                                                       Leticia, like many live-in caregivers, endured
At the international level, a very serious problem     abusive working conditions because of the hope
is the lack of signatures by migrant receiving         of eventually gaining permanent residence status
countries to the UN Convention on the Protection       and reuniting with her family. Years of
of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and               separation, however, took a serious toll on family
Members of their Families.                             relations. By the time they were reunited, Leticia
                                                       and her family were strangers. Leticia’s story
Within the WTO, the General Agreement on               illustrates the high price paid by children
Trade in Services (GATS) negotiations are no           deprived of their mother’s presence over many
more than an attack on public services by              years.
corporations. Despite the doublespeak on labour
mobility within GATS, it has nothing to do with
migrant worker rights or facilitating migration          “Now, you're probably asking
flows. Instead GATS negotiations centre on               yourself, why do we still come to
mechanisms that will enable global transnational         Canada? It's because we have to. We
corporations to import cheap unprotected labour.         have the need to come here. Our
                                                         families in Mexico depend on us.
As the discussion drew to a close there was an
important recognition of how forced migration            That's why we have to come back to
takes place in a context of racism and prejudice.        Canada, even if we receive physical
Sometimes, in the North, there is a notion that          or verbal abuse.”
migrant workers are stealing jobs from nationals.
Yet, with further exploration of their own               A Mexican farm worker in Ontario
experiences, most workers in the North and the
South are able to recognize that they are both         Jose, a seasonal agricultural worker in Quebec,
victims of corporate globalization. Rather than        recounted his experience of a serious work injury
competing with each other, they should stand           that cost him his job and his status. Jose was
together. In doing so, they give a new and             denied access to worker’s compensation benefits
                                                      Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering    5
and left to rely on the solidarity of the Coalition
in support of agricultural workers. Jose’s story
                                                              Demands for change expressed by
illustrates how the tax contributions paid by
seasonal agricultural workers rarely translate into                 migrant workers
real access to benefits and how the representation
of migrant workers’ interests by consular officials         “One of my main concerns, and this is also
is woefully insufficient when problems arise.               a demand, is that when we are ill, our
                                                            employer takes us to the doctor.”
Finally, Olga shared her long struggle to gain
legal status in Canada. After her refugee claim             “We would like our employers to pay us
was denied, Olga experienced the anxiety and                exactly what our contract laid out in
vulnerability of living without status while                Mexico and not to add extra little things -
waiting for a decision on her Humanitarian and              like, for example, ‘we'll have to take extra
Compassionate Application. The stakes were high             money from you for light and heating.’”
- her husband’s very life depended on gaining
status and, with it, access to treatment for a              “I would like to tell you that for us as
serious health condition. Olga’s story helped               women the problem of harassment is an
listeners to appreciate the restrictive nature of the       ongoing thing… As a woman, on behalf of
refugee definition: political persecution is only           my sisters, I would like to tell not only our
one of a range of legitimate reasons for seeking            employers, but also our brothers (male co-
protection or assistance abroad.
                                                            workers) to treat us with respect.”
Discrimination and rights violations characterize
                                                            “I have a yearning to be in the Philippines
the experience of many migrant workers in
Canada. Effective evaluation of the human and               with my kids. I have been without them for
social impact of current labour migration policies          seven years. That's why I came to Canada,
and management practices must be grounded in                because I thought it's the only country
the stories of migrants like Leticia, Jose and Olga.        where I could unite my family. But it's not
Similarly, recommendations for progressive                  that easy. If you work here, you have to
policy change must be informed by the personal              complete your 24 months… you'll do
experiences of migrant workers and members of               anything they want just so you can finish
their families. National networks working for               your months. Changing employers is not the
labour rights and human rights must acknowledge             solution to abuse - you don't have time left
the critical role to be played by those directly            to terminate the contract. It is the policy in
affected by the issues, and work to support and             the LCP that should be changed.”
empower them. Migrant organizations and
grassroots advocates must be key players in                 “When we fight for the small achievements
communicating the migrant experience to                     – the right to survive – we cannot forget
policymakers and the general public.                        our main goals. We need not just to survive,
                                                            but to survive with dignity, like everyone
In summary, current immigration laws must be                else living here. Let's speak as much as we
evaluated against the experiences of people like            can about giving some rights… and some
Leticia, Jose, and Olga, and improved in                    rights in that, we need full regularization
consequence. This cannot happen unless migrant              for everyone. We must unite around this.
workers have more opportunities to speak for                Let us stick to our main demands, we are
themselves. Creating such opportunities must be a
                                                            not here just to survive. We are here to
priority for our work together as a migrant justice
                                                            have a dignified life.”

                                                        Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering    6
C) Precarious Status, Precarious Rights                specified contract and are not permitted to apply
        (Mark Thomas, York University)                 for permanent residence within Canada. Veena’s
                                                       presentation documented the areas where workers
                                                       in the program are formally exempt from many
Growing numbers of migrant workers from the
                                                       basic labour standards, such as the right to union
global South perform many important but often
                                                       certification. Veena also highlighted the fact that
invisible forms of labour in Northern labour
                                                       even in areas where workers are covered by
markets. These workers often hold jobs that are
                                                       contractual or legislative provisions, workers may
characterized by low status, employment
                                                       have great difficulty in exercising their rights due
insecurity, low income and limited, if any, labour
                                                       to the constant fear of repatriation created by their
market mobility. Migrant workers may also have
                                                       temporary status in the country. The substandard
very limited access to labour rights in the
                                                       labour rights accorded to Mexican and Caribbean
countries in which they work. In the panel on
                                                       workers employed in the program are legitimized
Precarious Status, Precarious Rights, presenters
                                                       explicitly through the seasonal nature of the work
discussed the many ways in which migrant
                                                       and implicitly through the categorization of these
workers may be formally exempted from labour
                                                       workers as migrants/foreigners.
law protections and/or may have great difficulty
in exercising legal rights they may be entitled to     Cecilia Diocson, from the National Alliance of
when employed in a wide range of jobs in               Philippine Women in Canada, discussed the
Canada.                                                example of foreign domestic workers employed
                                                       through the Live-in Caregivers Program (LCP).
Panelists focused on the ways in which the lack        These women are another group of migrants that
of access to legal rights is directly connected to     experience these conditions of marginality and
status within a national community, documenting        exploitation within Canada’s labour market.
how citizenship shapes the experiences of social       Workers in this program perform child and elder
exclusion encountered by many migrant workers.         care, as well as housekeeping work such as
The presentations illustrated how, by controlling      cooking and cleaning. The labour performed by
access to citizenship rights and by promoting the      domestic workers has and continues to be
assumption that ‘foreigners’ should not have the       undervalued because it is characterized as work
same social and economic rights as ‘nationals’,        that is ‘naturally’ done by women, and because it
nation states construct differential sets of rights    is hidden from public view. As most participants
for different groups of workers within their           in the Live-in Caregiver Program are from the
borders. The categorization of some workers as         Philippines, these gendered determinations are
migrant/foreign workers legitimizes a secondary        also racialized – the assumption is made that
set of rights for those workers. Their precarious      women from this countries are even more
status as migrants –without access to citizenship      ‘naturally’ suited to this form of work, thereby
and permanent residency – places them in a             further undervaluing their labour. Like the
constant condition of having precarious rights.        workers in the SAWP, the women employed in
                                                       the LCP are unable to search for other forms of
In a presentation focusing on migrant farm             work for the duration of their employment
workers from Mexico and the Caribbean, labour          contract, which is a minimum of two years.
lawyer Veena Verma presented Canada’s                  Unlike the SAWP workers, they are able apply
Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP)           for Canadian citizenship, but not until the
as a prime example of this phenomenon. The             contract is complete.       Cecilia’s presentation
SAWP program brings migrant workers from the           illustrated how the temporary status of these
Caribbean and Mexico into Canada’s seasonal            workers places them in a highly vulnerable
agricultural production as ‘unfree’ migrant            employment context, severely compromising
labour. The workers are ‘unfree’ in that they are      their capacity to enforce their legal rights, leading
not permitted to seek employment outside their         to experiences of exploitation, emotional and
                                                      Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering    7
physical abuse, fear of deportation and overall              D) Building Alliance and Solidarity
social alienation.                                                       (Evelyn Encalada Grez,
                                                                      Justicia for Migrant Workers)
Finally, Francisco Rico from the FCJ Refugee
Centre looked beyond those migrants who enter
                                                          Much of the global movement of peoples since
Canada through the formal programs like the
                                                          the 1970s has been induced by global economic
SAWP and the LCP, discussing the experiences
                                                          restructuring. Globalization has produced
of those without legal status in the country.
                                                          different types of migratory flows and migrants.
These undocumented migrants are in an even
                                                          These include mobile professionals who are part
more precarious situation than those in the
                                                          of the global economic elite and millions of
country on temporary work permits. They work
                                                          displaced workers needing to migrate in order to
‘underground’ in construction and in the private
                                                          survive. The urgency of survival has meant that
service sector, all the while creating lives for
                                                          many migrants have had to accept unfavourable
themselves and their families.            Francisco
                                                          and highly exploitative conditions of migration
discussed how, without legal status in the
                                                          and work. However migrant workers and their
country, these migrants have no employment
                                                          allies are fighting back. This panel provided a
rights and thereby live in a constant state of
                                                          space for migrants and their allies to discuss
economic insecurity. Wages may go unpaid.
                                                          lessons learned from their experience in the
Jobs may be terminated without notice.
                                                          global movement for migrant rights.
Workplace injuries may go uncompensated. The
precarious status of undocumented workers
                                                          Marco Luciano of SIKLAB, a national
extends to their families. Without residency
                                                          organization of Filipino migrant workers,
rights, their children and dependents must also
                                                          addressed the situation of the Philippines that has
live with the constant fear of deportation. For
                                                          institutionalized the export of its peoples as
these migrants, attaining status is an ongoing
                                                          commodities in the global market. He explained
struggle that affects all aspects of their and their
                                                          that the majority of Filipino migrants in Canada
families’ lives.
                                                          are women working in domestic work either
Overall, the panel on
Precarious Status,
Precarious Rights
provided numerous
examples of the ways
in which different
groups of migrant
workers are
marginalized within
Canadian society.
While the specific
experiences of these
groups of workers
differ, the panelists
illustrated how their
commonality lies in
the ways in which their
precarious status in the
country creates an
ongoing condition of        Church and union representatives share advocacy experiences and strategies at the
precarious rights.          National Migrant Justice Gathering. Photo: UFCW.

                                                        Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering        8
caring for children or the elderly. These migrant      with the UFCW, discussed the context of Quebec
women have had to abandon their own families           where mobilization for migrant workers’ rights
and children to assume the care of others as a         has been met with aggressive hostility from
result of a national economy impoverished by a         employers and communities. Her experience
long history of colonialism. As such these             demonstrates how this struggle is fraught with
Filipina women provide affluent Canadian               tensions and risks not only for migrants but for
families access to affordable homecare and             allies as well. Erika del Carmen Fuchs, a
childcare in the absence of government funding.        community organizer with Justicia for Migrant
                                                       Workers, spoke about the context of British
Filipino migrants have a history of defiance and       Columbia, a province that is relatively new to the
mobilization. Filipino women in particular have        SAWP. Erika emphasized the need to work
challenged the idea of a docile workforce that is      transnationally and to create more democratic
easily dominated by market imperatives. They           alliances with mainstream institutions such as
have brilliantly organized themselves and clearly      unions. Jean Lashley talked about the history of
serve as an inspiring example for other migrant        El Sembrador, a ministry for Mexican migrant
workers and allies.                                    workers that emerged within the Catholic
Ramon Button of the Asia Pacific Mission for           community in the Holland Marsh area in Ontario.
Migrants (APMM) discussed the successful               Jean reminded us of the church’s historical
mobilization of Filipino and other Asian migrants      involvement in many social movements such as
working in Hong Kong and the Middle East. He           in the case of the civil rights movement in the
claimed that 16 or 17 years ago it was said that it    United States and also of the tradition of
was impossible to organize in Saudia Arabia.           liberation theology in Latin America which
Today, APMM actively advocates for migrant             emphasized the moral responsibility of the church
workers in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Ramon           to fight for the dignity and rights of the most
then outlined foundations to build and strengthen      marginalized.
the movement for migrant rights. Ramon’s               This panel offered diverse views and experiences
presentation countered the paralyzing sense of         from the perspectives of migrant workers and
impossibility that globalization often engenders.      allies. Building alliances across sectors and
Victories are indeed possible.                         borders is central to improving the lives of
The remaining panelists discussed their diverse        migrant workers and their families. Our work
organizing experiences with migrant farm               would be much enriched by building on our
workers in Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural              diverse experiences and knowledge. However,
Workers Program. Patricia Perez, an organizer          these alliances must be built around meaningful
                                                       solidarity among allies and migrants. This entails
                                                       acknowledging the power imbalances among the
“In many cases when we have problems
                                                       actors involved and seeking ways to amend them
and report them to the consulate or the                by ensuring all voices are heard. Only then can
farmers, what happens is that we're                    this movement be truly united to secure the rights
repatriated just for exposing the                      migrant workers deserve as human beings.
problems on the farm. If we had
freedom of speech, it would allow                      There are many challenges to overcome and more
                                                       political learning to pursue in the Canadian
leaders to come out and mobilize us in                 context. Panelists encouraged fellow activists to
our fight against injustice. This cannot               engage in this task with commitment and hope.
be done without the support of the                     We were reminded of one of Ernesto “Che”
organizations here today.”                             Guevarra’s uplifting phrases: “be realistic,
                                                       demand the impossible.” In other words, si se
Mexican farm worker
                                                       puede, yes we can!

                                                      Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering   9
           IV. Recommendations: Work Group Reports
A) Statement of Unity                                      •   Joint advocacy with government / a united
                                                               voice on migrant justice policy concerns
Prior to the National Migrant Justice Gathering, a         •   Working with other national organizations
draft statement of unity was circulated to                     to raise the profile of migrant justice
participants by the steering committee, together               issues (for example, the Canadian Council
with a list of draft policy positions. Participants            for Refugees and the Canadian Labour
were asked to discuss these draft documents with               Congress)
their local group or organization and to bring             •   Fundraising support for grassroots
feedback to the gathering. At the gathering itself,            initiatives and service provision
a work group of interested participants met to             •   Empowerment of migrant workers
discuss and revise these documents. The list of                themselves
policy positions generated a great deal of interest        •   Organization of an annual conference
and discussion, however it quickly became clear
that developing consensus around a detailed list       Representation and decision-making:
of policy positions was much too ambitious a task      Work group members recognized that the
for a two day gathering. In plenary, therefore, the    National Migrant Justice Gathering had brought
gathering focused on making revisions to the           together three distinct sectors: live-in caregivers
draft statement of unity in order to produce an        and allies, seasonal agricultural workers and
initial statement of collective concerns that could    allies, and undocumented/non-status immigrants
be used for advocacy purposes. The final               and allies. All three sectors will need to work
document is printed on the first page of this          together and support each other’s concerns in
report.                                                order for a network to be successful. There was
                                                       also a request that the group give priority to
B) Networking                                          migrant and grassroots participation. Finally,
                                                       there was insistence on the importance of
The Networking group met to discuss ideas for          maintaining connections to source countries and
building a more permanent national migrant             migrant organizations internationally.
justice network. There was considerable interest
in the idea of an ongoing network, as well as          Structure and funding:
recognition of the multiple levels of discussion       Development of a structure adequate to the
that need to take place to turn that idea into a       purposes of the network will take time. For now,
reality. Among the topics of discussion were: the      it was suggested that the steering committee
objectives of such a network, representation and       responsible for organizing the gathering be
decision-making, structure and funding.                expanded       to    include     other    interested
                                                       organizations and that this committee take
Objectives:                                            responsibility for further developing the vision
Work group members had varying hopes and               and activities of the migrant justice network.
dreams with regards to a national network.
Among the possible functions identified for a          Group members were concerned about securing
national migrant justice network were the              the funding necessary to sustain the activities of a
following:                                             network. Some group members envisioned that
                                                       the migrant justice network might evolve into its
   •   Information sharing / dialogue                  own organization over time. In the interim,
   •   Public education / awareness raising            however, it seemed necessary to identify an

                                                      Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering   10
   organization that might play a coordinating role.        groups. The purpose of this organization would
   The work group expressed its final                       be to focus on common concerns and strategies
   recommendation to the plenary as follows:                for change.

   “KAIROS has already done an excellent job at             Members of the work group identified a series of
   getting most of the organizations together and as        concerns to be addressed by the national migrant
   such they should ideally continue to coordinate          justice network:
   this effort of having a national coalition. This of
   course providing that the participating                      •   Globalization / commodification of labour
   organizations continue to support it financially.
   Not with the end of controlling it but with the              •   Exploitation of undocumented and
   purpose assuring the functioning of the national                 temporary migrant workers / downward
   coalition for better advocacy for the migrant                    pressure on working conditions and wages
   issues that we are faced with in today’s society.                of all workers / anti-union pressure
   Furthermore, the national structure should be                •   Lack of status / lack of appeal process /
   composed of members of each of the participating                 fear of deportation – identified need for a
   organizations and as much as possible by migrant                 regularization program
   workers themselves.”
                                                                •   Inadequate housing (ie. crowded and
   C) Advocacy                                                      unhealthy accommodations provided by
                                                                    employers under the LCP and SAW
   The Advocacy group met to discuss advocacy                       Programs)
   priorities to be included in a joint action plan of          •   Health and Safety issues
   the national migrant justice network. The group
   began by reiterating the important role that a               •   Control      of     documentation      (ie.
   collective body could play in strengthening the                  vulnerability of migrants due to employers
   voice of individual migrant justice advocates and                holding and controlling passports, visa
   groups. The Advocacy work group recommended                      chip cards)
   the formation of an umbrella organization with
   representation from a broad range of migrant                 •   Racism and discrimination
                                                            Some of the strategies proposed for taking action
                                                            on these and other concerns included letters,
                                                            rallies and border protests. Individual and / or
                                                            organizational endorsement of letters, statements
                                                            and submissions was seen as a way for groups to
                                                            support each other and take action as a larger

                                                            Members of the work group also proposed
                                                            developing a code of ethics for the migrant justice
                                                            network. The code of ethics would serve to
                                                            clarify common goals and values for members,
                                                            and help to establish credibility in the eyes of the
                                                            public, government and potential funders. The
                                                            statement of unity agreed upon by participants in
A delegation from the National Migrant Justice Gathering    the gathering could provide the starting point for
takes participants’ concerns to Ottawa. Photo: Rachel       such a code of ethics.
Warden, KAIROS.

                                                           Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering   11
D) Globalization
The globalization work group met to discuss the           •   Our advocacy strategies need to be based
global context of migration.         International            on an understanding of the root causes of
participants from the Philippines and Mexico                  migration. We should not fall into the trap
agreed with migrant workers living here in                    of “managing migration” (like the WTO,
Canada that the root causes of migration are very             ILO and other organizations). This will
similar throughout the world. We share a global               only result in policies like GATS.
economic model that allows for the
commodification of people. Forced migration is            •   We need to be clear in our analysis that
one expression of this commodification of human               globalization is not only a US phenomena.
beings. As well, the treatment of migrant workers             It is a product of the neo-liberal agenda
- the discrimination, racism and exploitation - is
very similar throughout the world. Given the              •   We need to look into the relationship
similar experience of migrant workers globally,               between economic mega projects (ie.
the globalization work group recommended that                 mining),    human       rights abuses,
we work to support and strengthen global                      displacement and migration.
alliances and networks of migrant workers.
                                                          •   We need to be intentional about building
 “If I close my eyes and think about                          links between social movements and
 what has been said, I would think                            human rights organizations that are
 that I was in Hong Kong, Malasia,                            working on these issues in the “home”
                                                              country and the migrants who have been
 or Saudi Arabia – the issues are the                         forced to leave.
 same, the governments treat us the
 same, and I hate that . . . The                          •   We need to address the systemic racism
 linkages among us - among workers                            and criminalization of migrants. Why are
 and workers for workers - should be                          early migrants celebrated as national
                                                              builders while today’s migrants are
 stronger. There's no space for                               criminalized?
 tiredness in this struggle.”
 Cynthia Abdon Tellez, Mission for Migrant            The work group was very interested in continuing
 Workers, Hong Kong.                                  to explore these issues through participation in
                                                      global alliances, movements and networks. A
Members of the work group identified the              few global alliances were mentioned including
following issues as key in our discussions and        the International League of People’s Struggles
analysis on globalization and migration:              (ILPS), Our World is not for Sale (specifically the
                                                      Network on GATS), the International Migrant
   •   There needs to be clear a message that         Alliance (started by Migrante International).
       people are not commodities                     There was a recommendation from the work
                                                      group that we explore participation in these
   •   Migrant workers are often depicted as a        groups and in general support and strengthen
       burden. In fact, they are sustaining two       alliances that bring together migrants, social
       economies: 1) the economy of the “host”        movements and human rights groups at an
       country through their migrant work and 2)      international level to look at issues of migration
       the economy of their “home” country by         and globalization and to develop global advocacy
       sending remittances.                           strategies.

                                                     Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering   12
                         V. Advocacy Delegation Report
                                                                                  •    The need to address the
                                                                                       discriminatory nature
                                                                                       of the immigration
                                                                                       points system, which
                                                                                       allows those with
                                                                                       professional education
                                                                                       and/or investment
                                                                                       capital to enter Canada
                                                                                       with permanent
                                                                                       residence, while
                                                                                       channeling manual
                                                                                       labourers into
                                                                                       temporary work
                                                                                       programs or denying
                                                                                       them legal status.

                                                                                  •       The need to do a
                                                                                          careful review of the
                                                                                          problems of labour
  Delegates from the National Migrant Justice Gathering meet with MP Maria
  Minna to discuss the particular challenges facing women migrants. Photo:
                                                                                          exploitation and family
  Rachel Warden, KAIROS.                                                                  separation experienced
                                                                                          by live-in caregivers
                                                                      and seasonal agricultural workers before
From June 13 - 15, a delegation of conference                         uncritically using these programs as
participants met with MPs and bureaucrats in                          models for an expanded regime of
Ottawa to discuss concerns arising from the                           temporary work permits.
National Migrant Justice Gathering. The
delegation      brought       together international              • The need to create mechanisms for those
delegates with representatives of the National                        currently in Canada without full
Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada, the                           permanent status to apply for such status.
UFCW and KAIROS. The delegation shared with                           There was strong support from
politicians and bureaucrats the revised statement                     participants in the National Migrant
of unity agreed upon by participants in the                           Justice Gathering for a regularization
National Migrant Justice Gathering, and focused                       program.
on five key messages:

    •   The importance of recognizing the                     •   The need to create meeting spaces, which
        primacy of international human rights                     would allow decision makers to hear
        agreements and labour standards over                      directly from migrants about their
        international trade agreements. The                       experiences in Canada. One proposal put
        delegation called on Canada to strengthen                 forth was that of a Parliamentary hearing
        its existing commitments, and to sign and                 on migrant concerns. (We regret that we
        implement the International Convention                    were not able to include migrant voices in
        on the Protection of the Rights of all                    the delegation that went to Ottawa and
        Migrant Workers and Members of their                      hope to work towards greater inclusion in
        Families.                                                 future advocacy work).

                                                        Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering      13
Cecilia Diocson of the National Alliance of           education work is as important as our meetings
Philippine Women in Canada and Stan Raper of          with government. It also means that politicians
UFCW Canada shared concerns specific to the           will be particularly attentive to the opinions of
Live-in Caregiver Program and the Seasonal            people in their own ridings and provinces. As an
Agricultural Workers Program. Tanya Chute             emerging network, we look forward to
Molina of KAIROS drew the attention of MPs            opportunities for member groups to engage with
and bureaucrats to the regularization policy          politicians across the country to discuss local
framework developed by the STATUS                     realities. We also look forward to working to
Campaign.     International delegates Ramon           create opportunities for migrants to share their
Bultron of the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants      stories and concerns more directly with policy
and Claudia Vera Noriega of Tepeyac Human             makers.
Rights Centre challenged the Canadian
government to look at its role in promoting forced    MP meetings (in order of meetings):
migration through trade agreements that               Andrew Telegdi, Liberal, Associate critic for
undermine local livelihoods in sending                Citizenship and Immigration
countries.                                            James Abbot, Conservative, Parliamentary
                                                      secretary for Canadian Heritage and
The delegation was encouraged by the                  Multiculturalism
sympathetic response to our concerns from             Maria Minna, Liberal, Critic for Status of
members of the Standing Committee on                  Women
Citizenship and Immigration, who suggested that       Meili Faille, Bloc, Critic for Citizenship and
the delegation request an opportunity to appear       Immigration
before their Committee. The NDP Human                 Carole Lavallée, Bloc, Labour Critic
Resources critic also encouraged us to participate    Bill Siksay, NDP, Critic for Citizenship and
in the employability hearings to be conducted in      Immigration
the fall of 2006 by the Standing Committee on         Tony Martin, NDP, HRSDC
Human Resources, Social Development and the           Irene Mathyssen, NDP, Status of Women
Status of Persons with Disabilities. These are
important leads for future lobby work by the          Department/Commission meetings
national migrant justice network. Standing            CIDA
Committees play an important role as a forum for      Federal Labour Standards Commission
presenting concerns to a broad cross-section of       Foreign Affairs (Mexico and North America
decision makers. Particularly in the context of a     Division)
minority     government      where   access     to    International Labour Cooperation
Conservative MPs and departmental officials is        Advocacy delegation members:
limited, Standing Committees have an important        Ramon Bultron, Asia Pacific Mission for
role to play in offering recommendations to their     Migrants
respective Ministers.                                 Tanya Chute Molina, Refugee and Migration
                                                      Program, KAIROS
Much of course remains to be done. Lobbying is        Cecilia Diocson, National Alliance of Philippine
as much about changing public opinion as it is        Women in Canada
about meeting with parlementarians. As one MP         Claudia Vera Noriega, Tepeyac Human Rights
put it to our advocacy delegation, politicians        Centre
follow the wind. If you want to influence an MP,      Stan Raper, UFCW Canada
you've got to change the direction of the wind.       Connie Sorio, Asia-Pacific Partnerships,
As we continue to build a national migrant justice    Rachel Warden, Latin American Partnerships,
network in Canada, our challenge is to change the     KAIROS
direction of the wind. This means that our public
                                                     Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering   14
                          VI. Dialogues across borders
      A plenary address to the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration
                   10th annual conference, York University, Toronto, June

                                         Tanya Chute Molina

Government policies and media stories often            working to extend the borders of our solidarity by
insist on a clear distinction between refugees,        entering into active dialogue with migrants and
who are forced to move, and economic migrants,         migrant justice advocates. A highlight of this
who come voluntarily. The implication is that          work was the National Migrant Justice Gathering,
refugees deserve special compassion and                held June 10-11 here at York University. This
protection, while economic migrants do not. In         gathering brought together over a hundred
fact, economic migrants are often painted as           migrants and allies from across Canada to share
“bogus refugees” or “queue jumpers” out to cheat       experiences, identify common concerns and
the system.                                            explore opportunities for collective action.

Sometimes as advocates we buy into the same            This gathering was an opportunity for dialogue
definitions and distinctions, focusing our efforts     across many kinds of borders. Filipina domestic
on refugees to the exclusion of all other migrants.    workers listened to the struggles and dreams of
In so doing, we erect artificial and exclusionary      Mexican      seasonal     agricultural   workers.
borders around our solidarity. These borders limit     Temporary workers from both groups engaged
our understanding of the true reach and impact of      with non-status immigrants of a variety of
forced migration. People find themselves forced        backgrounds. Unions, faith groups, community
to leave their homes for many reasons - not all        activists and grassroots migrant organizations
related to political persecution. Development          compared notes on advocacy approaches and
projects like highways; hydroelectric dams and         strategies. International participants brought a
mines displace vulnerable populations, pushing         source country perspective to the discussion of
them back onto flood plains or steep ravines,          migrant rights in Canada.
where a hurricane or an earthquake spells
disaster. Free trade agreements drive down prices      Dialogue across borders opens up new horizons.
for basic agricultural products, making it             Much advocacy work around migrant rights in
impossible for small farmers to make a living.         Canada has been organized along sectoral lines.
                                                       The Filipino community has a strong history of
Vulnerable migrants have few legal channels by         organizing for the rights of live-in caregivers, the
which to enter Canada. The refugee determination       majority of whom are Filipina women. The Latin
system excludes those whose reasons for moving         American community has more recently begun to
do not fit the stipulated “grounds for                 organize around the rights of seasonal agricultural
persecution.” Our immigration points system is         workers, especially the Mexican cohort. Latin
largely closed to those without professional           Americans have also joined together with a range
education or investment capital. So working class      of community organizations to stand in solidarity
migrants enter Canada on temporary work visas          with undocumented workers.
or end up in an undocumented situation - under
either of these scenarios, they are vulnerable to      As Filipinos and Latin Americans shared their
abuse and exploitation.                                experiences, they identified many commonalities:
                                                       home country economies devastated by neoliberal
KAIROS and our member churches have been               policies of free trade and privatization,

                                                      Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering   15
marginalization within temporary work programs,       One of the challenges for the network as we move
struggles with labour exploitation and family         into the future will be to strengthen migrant and
separation due to lack of permanent residence         grassroots participation on the migrant justice
status, lack of support from consular officials       steering committee, and frame our collective
more preoccupied with maintaining remittances         advocacy work in terms of speaking with
than defending migrant rights. Latin American         migrants rather than for them. A challenge all the
organizers expressed their respect and admiration     more acute because of the risks involved for
for the high level of organization achieved by        migrants who speak publicly about their
migrants themselves in the Filipino community,        experiences of exploitation and abuse - risks of
and a desire both to learn from and collaborate       losing both their employment and their fragile
with their Filipino counterparts.                     hold on status.

The National Migrant Justice Gathering also           As we engage in a dialogue across borders, we
offered key opportunities for collaboration           must pay particular attention to the voices too
between church and labour. Unions lent strong         often silenced by borders of privilege that we fail
financial support to the National Migrant Justice     to recognize. I would like to conclude by sharing
Gathering, while KAIROS assumed the logistical        with you the words of some of the migrant
coordination. KAIROS and the UFCW worked              participants in the National Migrant Justice
side by side on the migrant justice steering          Gathering. Their work contracts do not permit
committee, together with the National Alliance of     them to be here today, but their words tell of the
Philippine Women in Canada and the STATUS             challenges involved in speaking across borders of
Campaign. In doing joint advocacy work in             power and privilege.
Ottawa the week after the migrant justice
gathering, it was clear that churches were able to    “In many cases when we have problems and report
open political doors often closed to labour, while    them to the consulate or the farmers, what happens is
labour was able to help churches broaden their        that we're repatriated just for exposing the problems
base of supportive and influential contacts within    on the farm. If we had freedom of speech, it would
the NDP and the Canadian Labour Congress.             allow leaders to come out and mobilize us in our fight
                                                      against injustice. This cannot be done without the
                                                      support of the organizations here today.”
Dialogue across borders is exciting - such
dialogue opens up new understandings and new          “I came to work in a family in Ontario. At first they
possibilities for collaboration. Dialogue across      seemed so nice, but later on, they became verbally
borders can also be deeply challenging, forcing us    abusive. There were cameras all over the house, to
to critically reexamine the power dynamics            monitor what we're doing in the house when they're
within advocacy networks. One of the most             not there. I paid my board and lodging for $375 a
challenging presentations at the National Migrant     month, yet I didn't have any privacy. My employer’s
Justice Gathering came from Erika del Carmen          brother slept in the basement where I stayed, and
Fuchs, of Justicia for Migrant Workers BC.            sometimes I experienced sexual harassment.”
Justicia is an advocacy collective led by Latin
                                                      “When we fight for the small achievements – the right
Americans in solidarity with migrant workers.
                                                      to survive – we cannot forget our main goals. We need
Erika challenged churches, unions, and NGOs to        not just to survive, but to survive with dignity, like
respect the voice and agency of migrants              everyone else living here. Let's speak as much as we
themselves in leading the struggle for migrant        can about giving some rights… and some rights in
justice. She spoke of experiences where the voice     that, we need full regularization for everyone. We
and struggle of migrants and grassroots activists     must unite around this.”
had been “appropriated” by mainstream
advocates, leaving migrants themselves in the

                                                     Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering     16
                                       VII. Presentations
       Globalization and Migration                          "working poor" represent 20 per cent of total world
                  Ramon Bultron
                Managing Director                           Thus, it is not surprising to have such huge numbers
    Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)                of migrant workers. According to the Global
                    Hong Kong                               Commission on International Migration (GCIM),
                                                            there were nearly 200 million international migrants in
First of all, I wish to thank the organizers of this        2005, counting only those who have lived outside
conference for inviting me to speak at this important       their country for more than one year.
event and to contribute to the discussions on the issues
confronting globalization and migration.                    Increased Forced Migration

To travel is a right of every person. This is the reason    According to the World Migration Report 2005,
why migration is as old as humankind. Historically,         “migrants represent 2.9% of the global population.
people traveled to different places in order to find        The UN Population Division estimates the migrant
suitable places for them to survive.                        population in 2005 at between 185-192 million people
                                                            – up from 175 million in 2000. Nearly half of these
Today, aside from economic reasons, the numbers of          migrants are women. However, the socio-economic
migrant workers are continuously growing because            and political visibility of migrants, especially in
their own governments are exporting them.                   highly industrialized countries, is much greater than
Remittances that surpass their home countries’ major        this percentage would suggest.”2
export earnings help to cushion the deepening
economic and political crisis.                              This continuing flow of people seeking jobs outside of
                                                            their homelands is principally a result of the unabated
On the other hand, neoliberal globalization, which          conditions     of      poverty,    landlessness      and
represents the current effort of monopoly capital to        unemployment in many underdeveloped nations. In
address the problem of a deepening crisis of                fact, since 1980, the “push factors” of emigration have
overproduction     exacerbated     by    technological      intensified.   According      to    the    International
revolution, is doing the opposite. In effect, it creates    Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United
more and more recessionary crises due to                    Nations Conference on Trade and Development
overproduction.                                             (UNCTAD),3 this trend of economic migration is
                                                            rooted in extreme poverty and differences in standard
Financial speculation allows monopoly corporations          of living between countries.
to siphon off the lifeblood of economies, while trade
and investment liberalization allows monopoly               These twin agencies recommend “managing” this
corporations to kill off local enterprises, which are in    migration through generating rapid economic growth
no position to compete. The overall result of               in the countries of origin. Broad-based and rapid
globalization is the destruction of domestic                development would induce migrants to stay at home
economies, the massive loss of jobs and livelihoods,        of their own free choice rather than migrate under
and economic domination by foreign monopoly                 compulsion.4
                                                            However, governments of sending countries, instead
For people, this situation has meant growing                of attending to these developmental issues and causes
unemployment and deepening poverty.                         2
                                                              World Migration Report 2005, International Organization for
                                                            Migration, June 2005
The recent ILO World Employment Report 2004-                3
                                                              "Foreign Direct Investment, Trade, Aid and Migration",
2005, reveals that there are 550 million people who         IOM/UNCTAD, 1996
work, but still live on less than US $ 1 a day. These         Development Aid and Forced Migration, Asia-Pacific Mission
                                                            for Migrants, June 2003

                                                           Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering             17
of forced migration, are managing migration in a                     According to the same report, many governments in
different way. The export of labor, of people, has                   OECD countries have imposed stricter laws on entry
become a cornerstone of national development.                        and residence of foreigners as a means to improve
Remittances have steadily become the major factor                    management of migration flows. These measures even
that consistently cushions the decline of many national              include restrictions limiting the ability of settled
economies.5                                                          immigrants to reunite with their families.

Instead of resolving the displacement of workers,                    Because of increasing unemployment among nationals
farmers, and other low-paid service workers from                     in receiving countries, the general trend has been to
these sending countries, their governments have                      devise policies to limit the inflow of workers and
exploited these socio-economic groups, turning them                  enhance employment among nationals.8 For example,
into exports in return for much-need dollars for the                 in Saudi Arabia, unemployment has risen to about 13
national coffers. Instead of generating genuine                      percent among males and is estimated to be as high as
employment for the people, migrant-exporting                         35 percent among youth aged 20-24. In response,
governments have utilized migrants as revenue-                       many Gulf countries are implementing a “job
generating commodities in the global economy.                        indigenization policy”.

Shrinking Job Opportunities and Intensifying                         Because of such initiatives, immigrants, and
Competition Among Migrants for Work                                  particularly women and younger people, experience
                                                                     more difficulties than nationals in finding work.
While it is obvious that an increasing number of                     Young foreign men aged 25 to 29 have a labor market
people are being driven by deteriorating economic and                participation rate (working or looking for work) that is
social conditions in their respective countries to seek              14 percentage points lower than nationals in the
employment abroad, the shrinking global market for                   Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and more than
labor is actually limiting the types and number of                   12% lower than nationals in France. The gaps for
migrants who can actually find work overseas.                        women are even greater, reaching 34 percentage
                                                                     points in the Netherlands.9
Competition among migrant workers from Southeast
Asia and South Asia for the bottom jobs in Asia and                  The case of Filipino migrant workers provides another
other    regions    is     increasing.6   Employment                 example: “The crisis of the world capitalist system
opportunities    in    traditional    migrant-receiving              can take such a turn that the room for employment
countries are decreasing and there is stricter                       can become smaller even for cheap Filipino labor in
enforcement of immigration laws.                                     factories and public works jobs, contrary to the wish
                                                                     of the Arroyo regime to export one million Filipino
These factors explain why fewer people immigrated in                 workers a year. Filipino migrants may be willing to
2003 to major OECD countries such as Australia,                      take the 3-D jobs (dirty, difficult and dangerous jobs)
Canada, the United States, as well as leading Western                but cannot be accommodated when the particular
European countries including Germany and the                         economies abroad or the entire world capitalist
Netherlands. Fewer people also sought asylum in                      system contracts further. Political factors, such as the
OECD countries in 2003 and 2004, reversing the                       “anti-terror” hysteria, racism and all sorts of
upward trend of the latter half of the 1990s, according              discrimination can further work against Filipino
to the latest edition of the OECD’s Annual Trends in                 migrants.” 10
International Migration. Numbers of asylum seekers
in the 15 countries that were members of the European                This condition is exacerbating the scarcity of job
Union at the start of 2004 fell by 25% during the                    opportunities for temporary migrants as well as
year.7                                                               intensifying competition among immigrants for work
                                                                     in the host countries.
  Global Trade: People for Sale, Ramon Bultron, APMM, October
2005                                                                 8
                                                                       World Migration Report: Middle East section, IOM, 2005
  Keynote Address, MIGRANTE-International 6th Congress, Prof.        9
                                                                       World Migration Report 2005, International Organization for
Jose Maria Sison, December 2005                                      Migration, June 2005
  Migration flows to major OECD countries seem to be stabilizing,    10
                                                                        Keynote Address, MIGRANTE-International 6th Congress, Prof.
data show, OECD, 22/03/2005                                          Jose Maria Sison, Dec 2005

                                                                    Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering           18
Asian Migration: Major Shift in Destination and                    The new millennium saw more than 848,543 overseas
Rise of Undocumented Workers                                       Indonesian workers employed in Malaysia, Singapore,
                                                                   Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Brunei and Japan,
The Asian region accounts for some 14 per cent of the              among others, and only 504,656 in the Middle East.15
world’s total migrant stock.11                                     India also sends large numbers of migrants to East and
                                                                   Southeast Asia, rather than to the Middle East, with
Asia is currently the primary source of migration of all           Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong as the key
forms to most of the world’s immigrant-receiving                   destinations.
regions and countries. Almost one-third of all
immigrants in Australia are from Asia, with China, the             Another striking aspect of Asian migration is the
Philippines and India among the largest source                     increase in undocumented workers. Trafficking in
countries. Similarly, 33 per cent of immigrants in                 persons is a huge and largely unreported problem in
Canada and 24 per cent of immigrants in the US are                 Asia. It is estimated that the region accounts for
from Asia. 12 The nine largest Asian immigrant                     approximately one-third of the total global trafficking
exporting countries – the Philippines, India,                      flow (close to one million), with 60 per cent of the
Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Sri              women, men and children being channeled into major
Lanka and Myanmar – together contribute between                    regional cities and 40 per cent to other destinations in
one-half and two-thirds of all legal immigrants and                the rest of the world.16
refugees to the international migration stream.
                                                                   Malaysia and Thailand currently appear to have the
However, in real terms, migration flows have shifted               largest numbers of irregular workers, with estimates
in recent years and in some cases, international                   pointing to some 500,000 to one million unauthorized
migration is actually decreasing.                                  migrants working there.17

Asia, which traditionally represented the largest                  GATS Mode 4 Designs Migration Trends
international migrant stock, has seen an increase in the
number of migrants from 28.1 million in 1970 to 43.8               The data presented above and the trends that have
million in 2000. In real terms, this represents a drop             been identified by the International Organization for
from 34.5% to 25% of the migrant stock in the same                 Migration (IOM) closely approach the results
time frame. In addition, more and more Asians are                  designed by Mode 4 of GATS.
finding job opportunities within Asia itself.13 The
number of workers migrating within Asia has                        The “free” movement of capital, goods and services
increased in proportion to the fewer numbers of                    across national borders does not mean the same for
migrants moving to the Middle East, the original main              people. Under the WTO regime, the opportunities for
destination for Asian migrants since the early 70s.                movement for the majority of people remain limited.
                                                                   The right to work, mobility and migration are not
Today, many more Asian migrants are finding work                   options under the WTO. This is the hypocrisy of the
closer to home. While South and Southeast Asian                    WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services
workers still travel to the Middle East, their number,             (GATS).
compared to those engaged in work closer to home,
has decreased. In part this is also due to the                     While powerful developed countries, with their big
completion of many construction projects in the                    corporations, profess the speedy dismantling of
Middle East and the blossoming of work opportunities               barriers to trade in services, they maintain their
in East and Southeast Asia. 14                                     barriers to the entry of migrants, except when it
                                                                   benefits them.
   United Nations, “The Doyle Report”, background report on
migration N.Y., March 2003
   Migration Information Source, 2004                              15
13                                                                    Hugo, G., D. Rudd and K. Harris 2001 Emigration from
   Too Many Myths And Not Enough Reality On Migration
                                                                   Australia: Economic Implications, CEDA Information Paper, No.
Issues, Says IOM's World Migration Report 2005 No. 882 - 22
                                                                   77, June, Australia, p.19
June 2005                                                          16
14                                                                    United Nations, “The Doyle Report”, background report on
   Wickramasekera, P. “Asian Labour Migration: Issues and
                                                                   migration N.Y., March 2003
Challenges in an Era of Globalization”, International Migration    17
                                                                      Migration News, 2001
Papers 57, International Labour Organization, Geneva, August

                                                                  Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering            19
According to “GATS Mode 4:                    Globalizing    so are doctors of medicine to being nurses; nurses to
Commodification of Migrant Labor”: 18                        being “care givers” and young engineers and highly
                                                             skilled workers to being “apprentices”. 19
        Even though Mode 4 is (1) generally limited
        to the higher skilled service suppliers (skilled     Remittances: Up for Grabs
        migrant workers) - managers, executives, and
        specialists - and only seeks to protect the          Migrant workers' remittances have emerged as a major
        managerial personnel of multinational                source of external development finance in recent
        companies who are being posted from one              years.20 Given their magnitude, they have gained the
        country to another, (2) very restrictive and         attention of policymakers at the highest levels.
        excludes PERMANENT MIGRATION and (3)
        does not cover migration of people in search         According to the Asian Development Bank:21
        of jobs, many Third World governments are
        wrestling with powerful countries for Mode 4                  "The human movement involved in labor
        to become an instrument for international                     migration is of obvious economic importance
        migration, in fact a license for expansion of                 and… (labor export) has become the largest
        their labor-export programs.                                  single foreign exchange earning activity,
                                                                      outweighing commodity exports, in a number
        LDC members of WTO have an interest in                        of Asian labor-surplus nations."
        market access or movement for low and semi-
        skilled workers However, developed countries         ADB vice president Liqun Jin said that USD 53
        are conservative, if not totally hesitant, to        billion (or 42 percent) of the USD 127 billion total
        reach agreements regarding opening their             remittances that coursed through world banks in 2004
        labor markets for migrant workers of this            came from Asia. India, the Philippines, China and
        category.                                            Pakistan are among the top five remittance receiving
                                                             countries worldwide – the Philippines being number
        The Mode 4 commitments that have already             three.
        been made pertain almost totally to highly
        skilled personnel, in particular to the category     Remittances continued to grow in 2004, reaching
        of intra-corporate transferees coming from           USD 23 billion in India, USD 17 billion in Mexico,
        foreign multi-national investors. These              and USD 8 billion in the Philippines. India and the
        commitments, at present, have limited use for        Philippines are two of the largest beneficiaries of
        developing     countries      because       their    remittances globally, receiving between them more
        “comparative advantage” lies in the export of        than USD 15 billion in 2000 alone.
        low and medium-skilled “service-providers”.
        Thus the less skilled have been markedly             Remittances are now more than double the size of net
        marginalized in negotiations.                        official flows, and are second only to foreign direct
                                                             investment (FDI) (around USD 165 billion) as a
Mode 4 of GATS under the WTO seeks to “further               source of external finance for developing countries. In
deprive migrants of rights and make them vulnerable          36 out of 153 developing countries, remittances are
to worse conditions under the notion of labor                larger than all capital flows, public and private. In
flexibility. They are bent on suppressing trade union        many countries, they are larger than earnings from the
rights, shortening contracts, lowering wages,                most important export item. In Mexico, for example,
preventing immigration and permanent residence and           they were larger than foreign direct investments (FDI)
rotating the migrant workers all for the one-sided
benefit of the multinational firms. We also observe an       19 Keynote Address, MIGRANTE-International 6th Congress, Prof.

aggravation of the phenomenon of degrading and               Jose Maria Sison, Dec. 2005
                                                                Ratha, 2003; The Economist, July 31, 2004
deskilling of Filipino professionals. Not only are           21 More remittances from women emphasize feminization of
teachers being reduced to menial servants abroad, but        migration – ADB study, Jeremaiah M. Opiniano, OFW Journalism
                                                             Consortium, 08 October, 2005
  GATS Mode 4: Globalizing Commodification of Migrant
Labor, Norman Uy Carnay, Dec 2006

                                                            Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering            20
and about the same size as oil exports in 2003. In Sri          Filipina, 500,000 Indonesian, and some 40,000 Thai
Lanka, they were larger than tea exports.22                     women worked outside their countries in the late
                                                                1990s, and their numbers have continued to increase.
These estimates do not include remittances coursing             In 2001, women accounted for some 47 per cent of all
through informal channels. The IOM estimates that               migrants in Asia. For many years, most female
another USD 100 billion flows home through informal             migrants have come from the Philippines, Indonesia
channels23, making migrants a key source of revenue             and Sri Lanka, where women make up between 60
for many poor countries.                                        and 80 per cent of all migrants.25

Many multilateral agencies, like the World Bank,                Women are still predominantly entering (or being
ADB, Inter-American Development Bank-Multilateral               entered into) the services and welfare sectors. Some
Investment Fund (IDB-MIF), UNDP and IOM, are                    skilled migration patterns have been observed, but
currently eyeing the potential of this income. They are         only if admission policies are specifically developed,
now holding conferences and conducting studies to               for example, recruitment of nurses and caregivers for
look at how to siphon off this huge financial flow for          the US and Canada.
national governments and international agencies to
use     for    so-called    “poverty-reduction     and          They are preferred as domestic servants, entertainers,
development”.                                                   nurses, care givers, workers in electronic sweatshops,
                                                                seamstresses, hotel workers, and shop attendants. The
For example, the IDB-MIF, from 2001 to August                   large numbers of women working as domestic
2005, has financed remittances projects through non-            servants and entertainers are the most vulnerable to
refundable technical cooperation grants and loans to            abuses and human rights violations, including mental
the tune of USD 40,030,653. The ADB spent USD                   and physical maltreatment, rape and murder.26
650,000 for Philippine and Southeast Asian remittance
studies alone. 24                                               The demand for female migrants in the Middle East
                                                                has increased, particularly in the service industries,
In the guise of “enhancing foreign remittances”, these          through the creation of low and unskilled jobs that
studies are not only culling estimates of remittances or        migrant women are willing to take, while the local
analyzing migration trends, but more importantly                population is reluctant to do so. They are paid lower
understanding how remittances are sent, received and            than the minimum wage and work longer hours. For
used. Monopoly banks are on the lookout for more                example, according to UNIFEM, more than 90 percent
“efficient” mechanisms of generating more profits               of female migrant workers earned less than the
from “financial intermediation initiatives” – that is,          minimum wage in Jordan.
increasing transaction costs and business opportunities
for these remittances.                                          These jobs are filled by women from the developing
                                                                countries of Asia, principally Sri Lanka, the
Likewise, it is not surprising to note that the
                                                                Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh,
international organizations and agencies such as the
                                                                Pakistan and India. The majority tend to work in
UN, ILO and even the UN program of MDB speak of
                                                                private households as domestic workers, but also in
enhancing and facilitating migration, rather than
                                                                the hotel and entertainment industries, the latter
addressing the root causes of forced migration.
                                                                sometimes being a euphemism for commercial sex.
Women and Trafficking
                                                                Women migrants also make up the majority of victims
                                                                of trafficking in persons in the world.27
Asian women already constitute the majority of
migrant workers in several countries: one million
                                                                   Asis, M. “Asian Women Migrants: Going the Distance, But Not
   Ratha, D.“Workers’ Remittances: An Important and Stable      Far Enough”, Migration Information Source, Washington, D.C., 1
Source of External Development Finance”, in The World Bank:     March 2003.
Global Development Finance, Washington, D.C, 2003               26
                                                                   Keynote Address, MIGRANTE-International 6th Congress, Jose
   RP among top migrant sending countries, Agence France-       Maria Sison, Dec. 2005
Presse,                                            27
                                                                   US Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act,
24 More remittances from women emphasize feminization of
                                                                Section 102, 2000.
migration – ADB study, Jeremaiah M. Opiniano, OFW Journalism
Consortium, 08 October, 2005

                                                               Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering            21
Many stories can be culled even from IOM reports:                   drivers, construction workers, carpenters, warehouse
“Many women from the Philippines, Bangladesh,                       men, laundry workers, cooks, accountants,
Pakistan, India, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia                  beauticians, and other blue-collar workers.
are attracted by promises of well-paid domestic jobs
in the Middle East countries. At destination, some                  Tens of thousands of such TNC laborers have helped
experience physical and sexual abuse, under-or non-                 set new records for the largest civilian workforce ever
payment of wages, or are forced into sex work.                      hired in support of a U.S. war. They are employed
Women from Ethiopia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and                      through complex layers of companies working in Iraq.
the Philippines have been taken to Lebanon, where                   At the top of the pyramid-shaped system is the U.S.
they are subjected to mistreatment, under-payment                   government, which assigned over $24 billion in
and long hours of work without rest, at times sexually              contracts over the last two years.30
abused or forced into the sex trade. In Saudi Arabia,
cases of sexual harassment, humiliation, severe                     In connection with the US invasion and occupation of
beatings and delayed salaries have driven a number                  Iraq, Filipinos have been recruited as drivers, security
of housemaids to escape from their employers. In                    guards, construction workers and the like in order to
December 2002, the King Fahd General Hospital in                    reduce the number of US casualties, as well as the
Jeddah received several cases of housemaids with                    costs for wages, death and injury. Recruiting agencies
serious fractures caused by falls sustained in attempts             deliberately recruit far more than enough Filipinos for
to flee employers by jumping out of windows in high-                available civilian jobs in Saudi Arabia and the
rise apartments. The press also reported cases of                   Emirates. Then the excess recruits are redirected to
housemaids attempting suicide in the same year.” 28                 war-related jobs in Iraq under pain of losing what they
                                                                    paid to be able to get the previous job prospect. The
Migrants’ Lives at Risk: War-Related Jobs                           issue of war-related jobs has been brought about by
                                                                    the global capitalist crisis that has given rise to
The US invasion and occupation of Iraq has                          imperialist aggression and war.31
highlighted the inhumane treatment of migrant labor
by foreign superpowers. The phenomenon of                           Dangers and hardships face these migrant workers
conscripted labor, or migrant civilian labor fed into               driven by desperation to cling to high-risk
the war machinery, has increased under the auspices                 employment in the war-torn Middle East. They
of the “war on terror”. This has significantly put                  frequently sleep in crowded trailers and endure the
migrants’ lives at risk and has intensified their                   desert heat. They lack adequate medical care and put
exploitation and commodification.                                   in hard labor seven days a week, 10 hours or more a
                                                                    day, for little or no overtime pay. Few receive proper
Low-wage workers coming from more than a dozen                      workplace safety equipment or adequate protection
countries, especially from Asia, have been lured to                 from incoming mortars and rockets. When gunfire,
Iraq to work for projects led by Haliburton and other               rockets and mortar shells from the ongoing conflict hit
US-funded contractors. They are hired to provide                    the sprawling military camps, American contractors
support services to the military and reconstruction                 slip on helmets and bulletproof vests; but migrant
efforts. Multinational corporations like Haliburton and             workers are frequently shielded only by the shirts on
Bechtel are importing 'third country nationals' (TCNs)              their backs and the flimsy trailers they sleep in.
– the corporate parlance for cheap migrant labor - and
putting them to work in horrible conditions - to fulfill            Many are killed in mortar attacks. Some are shot.
their U.S. government contracts.29                                  Others have been taken hostage before meeting their
                                                                    death. In particularly gruesome set of murders on
They hail largely from impoverished Asian countries                 August 30, 2004, 12 Nepalese cooks and cleaners
such as the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka,                working for a Jordanian construction company were
Nepal, and Pakistan, as well as from Turkey and                     abducted. One worker was beheaded.
countries in the Middle East. Once in Iraq, TCNs earn
monthly salaries between $200 and $1,000 as truck
   World Migration Report, IOM, June 2005                             Keynote Address, MIGRANTE-International 6th Congress, Prof.
   Using Asia's Poor to Build U.S. Bases in Iraq, David Phinney,    Jose Maria Sison, Dec. 2005

                                                                   Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering           22
And yet sending governments like that of the                            their impacts on migration. That is why migrants have
Philippines, who are staunch supporters of Bush’s                       been expressing discontent in varied forms these past
Coalition of the Willing, have continued to deploy                      years. Spontaneous protests in defense of their wages,
migrant labor to Iraq and elsewhere, feigning some                      job security and protection and general workers rights
restrictions when a compatriot has been kidnapped                       have occurred whether it be the actions of conscripted
and threatened with death.                                              Asian laborers in US military camps in Iraq or actual
                                                                        strikes undertaken by migrant workers in factories in
In a statement on this situation, MIGRANTE-                             Taiwan.
International32 said that various internet and media
outlets in the region have confirmed intelligence                       More and more, organizations of migrants have been
reports from government authorities that Al Qaeda                       gaining ground. They are leading the campaigns
‘terrorists’ are targeting in this particular order:                    locally and are slowly able to project themselves
American, British, Filipino, Italian and Japanese                       internationally through the help of migrant advocates.
nationalities. OFWs have become fair game to
‘terrorists’ in both Iraq and Saudi Arabia because of                   Inter-ethnic cooperation and solidarity among migrant
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s support to the                      workers and immigrants has also been felt and seen.
US government’s “terror war of occupation in Iraq.”                     Whether it be through conferences or joint campaigns,
                                                                        their common interests intersect and have led to
There are 940,000 Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia,                    concrete activities for cooperation. Through
with 200,000 in the oil city of Al-Khobar. An                           networking and actual exchanges, more and more
estimated 4,200 Filipinos are toiling in American                       migrants within the Asia-Pacific and other regions are
installations in Iraq. And yet the Philippine                           slowly gravitating towards the formation of an
government is content with only ‘slowing down                           international movement of migrant workers.
deployment’ to Saudi Arabia and war-torn Iraq and
declaring that “there is no need for an evacuation of                   Understanding the varying levels of intervention –
Filipinos in the two nations.                                           local, regional and international as well as home and
                                                                        host country – the migrant movements are taking on
That is why Gloria-Macapagal-Arroyo, like other                         the tasks of building the broadest possible front for the
heads of state of sending countries, has been held                      defense of their rights and welfare. As well, they are
accountable for jeopardizing the lives of migrant                       becoming ready to face the challenge of merging their
workers in the Middle East. As of 2004, there were at                   strength in the international movement against
least 11 OFWs killed, 21 injured and 4 abducted in                      neoliberal globalization.
Iraq and Afghanistan.33
                                                                        Migrant workers are thoroughgoing in their fight to
As it is currently, no official estimates of the                        reclaim the dignity of labor and promote workers’
magnitude of conscripted labor have been made. They                     rights and interests. Through their organizations, they
remain invisible cheap labor and used as pawns for the                  are principally pressuring their national governments
war of aggression and recolonization efforts of the                     to address the root causes of forced migration and
US. With the continuing policy of the US “Project for                   eradicate the existing labor export programs. “Jobs in
the New Century”, the issue of war-related jobs and                     our homeland!” has been a consistent battle cry for
the role that migrant workers take in them will                         these migrants. They fully understand that the long
intensify and will need attention from migrant                          term solution to their diaspora and the fulfillment of
movements and advocates.                                                their dream to live a decent life with their families
                                                                        back home lies in the genuine transformation of their
Migrants on the Rise                                                    own societies. They understand that access to gainful
                                                                        employment, livable wages, and food sovereignty,
Migrant workers are the first to feel the impacts of the                along with other basic rights, can only be achieved in
changing trends of the global and regional crisis and                   a society that is based on social justice, respect and
                                                                        assertion of national patrimony and sovereignty, and
32 Filipino soldiers and civilians in Iraq, Saudi Arabia are targets    human rights.
of 'terrorists', Migrante International, Jun. 03, 2004
   Why OFWs Want Gloria to Resign,
                                                                        I hope this conference will contribute to the
                                                                        realization of such a vision. Thank you.

                                                                       Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering       23
        Globalisacion y migraciones                          el modelo económico neoliberal impuesto por la
                                                             hegemonía estadounidense en América Latina.
                Claudia Vera Noriega
                 Directora ejecutiva                         IV. Migracion y libre comercio
                   Centro Tepeyac
                       Mexico                                No olvidemos que durante 12 años hemos sufrido
                                                             fuertemente el impacto de la globalización y la
Presentación power point                                     apertura de mercados, pues el Tratado de Libre
                                                             Comercio con América del Norte (TLCAN), omitió el
I. Centro Tepeyac                                            tema de la migración, muy a pesar de las dimensiones
                                                             que el fenómeno representa en estos tres países.
Con 14 años de caminar el Centro Tepeyac, tiene
como objetivo: Fortalecer el desarrollo de una cultura       La fuerza laboral migratoria seria la reserva laboral
de reconocimiento y respeto a los derechos humanos;          que necesitaría ser regulada para ser empleada en
de la población indígena y no indígena de la diócesis        cualquier parte donde el capital lo requiriera, para lo
de Tehuantepec partiendo de la realidad a través de su       cual sería importante que mantuviera su carácter de
promoción y defensa desde los grupos vulnerables,            ventaja comparativa regional por su bajo costo tanto
propiciando que la población sea el principal sujeto de      para la producción como para su reproducción, es
esta tarea.                                                  decir, Estados Unidos deberían apoyar las solicitudes
                                                             de fondos presentados por México a las instituciones
Es una Asociación Civil sin fines de lucro con               financieras internacionales para mejorar la
inspiración cristiana independiente de partidos              infraestructura en locaciones del interior capaces de
políticos estrechamente relacionada con el sector de la      albergar actividades de las maquiladoras (Impacto a la
iglesia católica, de opción preferencial por los pobres,     migración indígena. Archivo CDH TEPEYAC 2002).
pero con autonomía organizacional propia, cuyo
ámbito de trabajo esta conformado por 55 municipios,         En México, durante el sexenio de Carlos Salinas de
donde viven 8 pueblos indígenas: Ikoot´s, Mixtecos,          Gortari, su gobierno apostó a que el problema
Zapotecos, Chontales, Mixes, Chinantecos, Mazatecos          migratorio se solucionaría a largo plazo por los
y Mestizos.                                                  beneficios que traería el TLCAN, pues – Estados
                                                             Unidos y Canadá – éstos gobiernos consideraban que
II. Ismo de Tehuantepec                                      la liberación económica y comercial de nuestro país
                                                             fijaría, a largo plazo, a la mano de obra migratoria en
El Istmo de Tehuantepec es la parte más angosta de la        su propio territorio (La Migración y los Derechos
República Mexicana, se localiza al sureste, en el            Humanos en el PLAN PUEBLA PANAMA, Archivo
Estado de Oaxaca. Está conformado por los distritos          CDH Tepeyac 2003).
de Juchitán y Tehuantepec y colinda, al norte, con el
istmo veracruzano; al sur con el Océano Pacífico; al         V. Acuerdo de cooperación laboral (ACLAN)
oeste con la Sierra Juárez y con la Sierra Madre del
Sur, y al este con el Estado de Chiapas.                     La exclusión de derechos laborales y aspectos
                                                             ambientales en los tratados firmados por México con
III. Mexico y las migraciones                                los países centroamericanos (aspectos que se
                                                             incorporaron, aunque de manera muy débil, en sendos
Nuestro país es considerado, por su ubicación                tratados de complementariedad laboral y ambiental al
geográfica, como un país de origen, tránsito y destino       TLCAN, gracias a la lucha de diversas
de migrantes, por lo que el tema de la migración y de        organizaciones, partidos políticos y congresistas de
las causas que lo generan, debería convertirse en la         México, Estados Unidos y Canadá), obedece a los
columna vertebral de su política económica.                  intereses de las grandes corporaciones que ven en
                                                             dichos aspectos (laboral y ambiental) ventajas
¿Porque se emigra?                                           comparativas regionales (mano de obra barata;
                                                             recursos energéticos y de biodiversidad, etc.) y por
En los años 80’s las causas eran las guerras civiles, los    ende la posibilidad de una mayor rentabilidad de los
conflictos armados internos persecusiones políticas          mismos (El Plan Puebla-Panamá Como Regulador de
y/o religiosas en Centro y Sudamérica, actualmente es        la Migración Laboral Centroamericana y del Sur-

                                                            Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering     24
Sureste de México. Dr. Juan Manuel Sandoval                VII. Testimonio
Palacios, Coordinador General del Seminario
Permanente de Estudios Chicanos y de Frontera).            “… Es muy difícil la verdad muy difícil, uno se la
                                                           pasa trabajando fuera de su país, y allá pues saliendo
                                                           del trabajo tiene uno que llegar a lavar la ropa,
El ACLAN es un acuerdo paralelo al Tratado de Libre        cocinar, y pues finalmente a los compañeros que
Comercio de América del Norte (TLCAN). En él se            desean ir a Canadá, pues que lo piensen por que es
establece que los gobiernos de Canadá, México y            muy duro, además de que el requisito indispensable es
Estados Unidos deben garantizar que sus leyes y            ser campesino, y que tus manos demuestren el trabajo
reglamentos en materia laboral impulsen altas normas       y los años que has trabajado con la tierra.
en la calidad de los puestos de trabajo, además de
salvaguardar la observancia de la legislación y el         En una ocasión platicamos con una persona que
acceso de los ciudadanos a procedimientos                  defiende los derechos humanos del migrantes y nos
administrativos y judiciales justos, equitativos y         comento que alrededor de 52 mil mexicanos van aya,
transparentes (A diez anos del acuerdo de cooperación      en la granja a donde estoy comparto un lugarcito con
laboral entre Canadá, México y Estados Unidos.             uno del estado de México, Cuernavaca, Guerrero, y
Mario Ortega Olivares).                                    Michoacán…

VI. Trabajadores agricolas                                 … Canadá es el país del progreso pero también existe
                                                           racismo, violencia de nuestros patrones hacia los que
Desde 1974 el gobierno mexicano ha estado                  estamos ahí, a mi no me a tocado pero hay
involucrado en un arreglo con el gobierno de Canadá        compañeros que me han contado            que       son
mediante el cual los trabajadores agrícolas asalariados    discriminados, por ejemplo en el corte de la cebolla
reciben visas temporales de trabajo para laborar en las    les tienen que hacer que corten una gruesa por hora,
granjas canadienses por periodos de seis semanas a         lo que equivale a una gruesa son racimos, cada racimo
ocho meses anualmente (Campos agrícolas, campos            corresponde a una pieza pero una gruesa equivale a
de poder: el estado mexicano, los granjeros                144 racimos y los obligan a cortarlo si no disminuye
canadienses y los trabajadores temporales mexicanos.       la paga…”
Leigh Binford Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y
Humanidades Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de             Daniel Ruiz Martinez (Oaxaca)
                                                           VIII. Migracion y Plan Puebla Panama
La cantidad de información estadística sobre los
trabajadores agrícolas migratorios varía en gran           México ha venido contribuyendo a crear un área
medida entre los tres países. Las pruebas disponibles      completamente subordinada a la economía
sugieren que en cada país las minorías étnicas y los       estadounidense que busca aprovecharse de las
inmigrantes constituyen una parte importante de la         ventajas comparativas de la mano de obra barata y los
población de trabajadores migratorios. En cada país        recursos naturales de la misma. Para ello el Plan
los esquemas formales para admitir trabajadores            Puebla-Panamá (PPP) propuesto por el Presidente
agrícolas extranjeros en forma temporal son                Vicente Fox con el propósito de integrar el sur-sureste
diferentes. Estos permiten suministrar una parte           de México con Centroamérica, lo que trata es de crear
relativamente pequeña de la fuerza laboral agrícola        las condiciones para tener acceso a los recursos
total. En el caso de Canadá y Estados Unidos, los          energéticos y de biodiversidad que existen ahí y que
programas requieren de un estudio del mercado              las      grandes       corporaciones   transnacionales
laboral para determinar que no hay suficientes             estadounidenses buscan rentabilizar; así como regular
trabajadores disponibles en el país para realizar el       los flujos migratorios centroamericanos y del sur-
trabajo antes de que la autoridad laboral otorgue el       sureste de México canalizándolos como mano de obra
permiso de recurrir a trabajadores agrícolas               barata para las industrias maquiladoras, los grandes
temporales extranjeros. Una proporción amplia de la        proyectos de infraestructura e hidrológicos, silvícolas
fuerza laboral que participa en estos esquemas esta        y el sector servicios (turismo, comercio, etc) que se
conformada por mexicanos.                                  impulsarán en la región; además de crear un puente
                                                           entre América del Norte y América del Sur para
                                                           facilitar el desarrollo de ALCA.

                                                          Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering     25
El Plan Puebla Panamá esta orientado a regular el          XI. Diagnostico sobre la situacion de los derechos
mercado laboral del hemisferio, en este marco los          humanos en Mexico (ONU)
gobiernos Mexicano y Estadounidense negocian el
establecimiento de controles de la frontera sur de         “Como México es un país de origen, tránsito y destino
México, a cambio de nuevas cuotas para los                 de migrantes, el fenómeno debe analizarse de manera
inmigrantes mexicanos en Estados Unidos, por lo que        integral. Entre los principios que sustentan las
con este proyecto regional se pretende aprovechar          políticas oficiales debe estar el reconocimiento de la
una mano de obra barata, tanto de mexicanos como           deuda que el país tiene con los mexicanos que
de centroamericanas, un ejército laboral que podría        migraron a otros países y el hecho de que se debe
ocuparse en la industria de las maquiladoras,              conceder a los extranjeros en México los mismos
proyectos    agropecuarios,    infraestructura   de        derechos que se piden para nacionales mexicanos en
carreteras y ecoturismo (Juan Manuel Sandoval,             otros países.”
especialista mexicano del Instituto Nacional de
Antropología e Historia).                                  Propuestas:

IX. Migracion y terrorismo                                     •   Armonizar la legislación nacional con los
                                                                   compromisos internacionales.
Cabe mencionar, el giro que se le dio a la migración,          •   Se recomienda homologar las leyes General
posterior a los acontecimientos del 11 de septiembre               de Población y Federal del Trabajo con los
de 2001, al pronunciarse el gobierno de los Estados                preceptos de la Convención internacional
Unidos por una lucha y combate contra el terrorismo,               sobre los derechos de todos los trabajadores
el tema migratorio se vincula ahora con el de                      migratorios y sus familiares, para dar
Seguridad Nacional, en el que, el papel que juega                  cumplimiento a los compromisos y
México es, reforzar el control y vigilancia en sus                 obligaciones del Gobierno mexicano.
fronteras – norte y sur – con la participación del             •   Los legisladores deben fortalecer las medidas
Ejército Mexicano, y la Policía en todos sus rangos,               de protección específicas estipuladas para los
criminalizando y militarizando así el fenómeno                     trabajadores agrícolas y otras categorías de
migratorio (La Migración y los Derechos Humanos en                 trabajadores temporales no especificadas en la
el PLAN PUEBLA PANAMA, Archivo CDH                                 ley, como trabajadores domésticos o
Tepeyac 2003).                                                     trabajadores en el comercio informal.
                                                               •   Varias organizaciones civiles coincidieron en
X. Compromisos internacionales                                     recomendar una reforma a la Ley General de
                                                                   Población y su Reglamento, para establecer
La Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas, adoptó                 los procedimientos para el aseguramiento de
el proyecto de Convención el 18 de diciembre de 1990               extranjeros que no tienen representación
mediante resolución 45/158. Con dicha resolución, la               consular en el país o que no son aceptados por
Asamblea General abrió a la firma, ratificación y                  su país de origen, con el propósito de que no
adhesión la Convención Internacional sobre la                      permanezcan privados de su libertad por
Protección de los Derechos de Todos los Trabajadores               periodos largos de tiempo.
Migratorios y de sus Familiares y exhortó a todos los          •   Reformar la Ley General de Población y su
Estados Miembros de la Organización, a que                         Reglamento, para contar con nuevas
consideraran la posibilidad de firmar y ratificar la               características migratorias.
Convención, o de adherirse a ella, con carácter
prioritario. México fue el primer país en firmar la        XII. Alianza para la seguridad y la prosperidad de
Convención Internacional (22 de mayo de 1991).             america del norte (aspan tlcan-plus)
Para entrar en vigor, la Convención establece que son      El pasado 23 de marzo de 2005 -a espaldas de la
necesarias 20 ratificaciones. Este requisito se cumplió    ciudadanía y sin consultar al Congreso- Vicente Fox
el 14 de marzo de 2003, con el depósito de los             firmo junto con Estados Unidos y Canadá, la
instrumentos de ratificación de Guatemala y El             declaración conjunta de la denominada Alianza para la
Salvador.                                                  Seguridad y la Prosperidad de América del Norte o
                                                           mejor conocida como ASPAN o TLC Plus.

                                                          Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering    26
Para el 27 de Junio de 2005 los tres países acordaron       la autoridad legal a residir o permanecer en los
mas de 300 regulaciones sobre comercio, carreteras y        Estados Unidos”. Además, el tiempo de
pasos fronterizos que incluyen medidas de seguridad         encarcelamiento que se aplica a un inmigrante ilegal
que afectan la vida, la libertad y los derechos             se    aplicaría    también    a   quienquiera   que
humanos de los mexicanos, así como el ejercicio             “concientemente ampare o ayude” aquel inmigrante “a
efectivo de nuestra soberanía (Folleto del ASPAN.           reingresar a los Estados Unidos”.
Archivo CDH Tepeyac 2005).
                                                            Mientras estas cláusulas posiblemente tienen como
Adoptando una política que busca frenar desde               intención sólo blanquear a coyotes, cual están escritas
nuestras fronteras, el flujo de trabajadores procedentes    incluyen cualquier organización caritativa, iglesia o
de Centroamérica, adoptando una campaña                     vecino de un alienígena ilegal que lo ayude a
propagandística en la que se criminaliza a los              permanecer en los Estados Unidos, por ejemplo, al
Centroamericanos, explotando en forma alarmista el          proveerle alimento, ropa o abrigo. Las leyes vigentes
desbordamiento de pandillas conocidas como “Maras           ya prohíben “la ayuda y el amparo” a alienígenas
Salvatruchas”.                                              ilegales. Este proyecto de ley, sin embargo, está
                                                            específicamente elaborado con vistas a aumentar el
XIII. Migracion y globalisación                             cumplimiento de las leyes contra la tráfico de seres
“Canadá, México y Estados Unidos compartimos el
compromiso de fortalecer la seguridad, la prosperidad       XV. La resistencia
y la calidad de vida de nuestros ciudadanos en
América del Norte. Reconocemos que mediante la              El lunes 1º de mayo fue “un día sin inmigrantes”,
cooperación se promueve el éxito de nuestros países.        durante el cual inmigrantes ilegales y quienes los
La Alianza para la Seguridad y Prosperidad de               apoyan fueron alentados a abstenerse de comprar lo
América del Norte, que celebra su primer aniversario        que fuera y faltar al trabajo o a la escuela. Su meta era
en este mes, nos ofrece un marco para avanzar en la         impactar la economía y probar a ciudadanos lo cuánto
colaboración en áreas tan diversas como seguridad,          dependen de la inmigración ilegal. Resultó en por lo
transporte, medio ambiente y salud pública.”                menos un millón de manifestantes por todo el país,
                                                            aunque algunas fuentes estiman que más de dos
Declaración Conjunta de Mandatarios. Marzo 31,              millones de manifestantes fueron a las calles. Marchas
2006, Cancún, México.                                       tuvieron lugar en Los Ángeles, Nueva York, Chicago
                                                            y hasta en ciudades menores en Pennsylvania,
XIV. Proyecto de ley Sensenbrenner 4437                     Virginia, y Carolina del Norte. Muchedumbres en Los
                                                            Ángeles se calcularon alrededor de 600.000 personas
H.R. 4437 (Acto para control de inmigración,                para las dos marchas del boicot. Luego de la segunda
antiterrorismo y protección de las fronteras de 2005 -      mayor huelga en Chicago, se estimó que alrededor de
- The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal         más de 400.000 personas tomaron las calles para
Immigration Control Act of 2005) fue una iniciativa         demostrar su apoyo por la reforma migratoria.
aprobada por la asamblea legislativa de Estados
Unidos el 16 de diciembre de 2005 con 239 votos a           XI. Conclusiones
favor y 182 en contra. También se conoce como
"Sensenbrenner Bill" (proyecto de ley Sensenbrenner),       Nuestros migrantes son sin duda, producto de la
pues su patrocinador en la cámara de representantes         exclusión política y económica que los Gobiernos de
fue Jim Sensenbrenner. Este proyecto de ley se              América Latina han aplicado al obedecer las
encuentra actualmente (3 de abril de 2006) en               directrices del modelo neoliberal a través de los
consideración por parte del senado Estadounidense,          mecanismos del “Libre Mercado”, denominado “Libre
tras las enmiendas propuestas por el Comité Judicial        Comercio” con graves consecuencias para nuestros
del Senado.                                                 países como: la desprotección de la producción
                                                            nacional y local, el incremento de la pobreza, la
Según este proyecto de ley, sería un delito “ayudar” a      corrupción, el desempleo, la flexibilización laboral y
inmigrantes ilegales a “permanecer en los Estados           la mercantilización de la naturaleza, generando un
Unidos … a sabiendas de o en abierto rechazo del            contexto de miseria y hambre, dando como resultado
hecho que tal individuo es un alienígena que carece de      una sobre oferta de fuerza de trabajo que al no hallar

                                                           Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering       27
empleo los obliga a emigrar hacia Estados Unidos,         and labour legislation. Suffice it to say that, in theory,
convirtiéndose allá en mano de obra barata que les        they are supposed to have access to all of the same
sirve a para proteger y desarrollar su economía.          employment and labour laws that Canadian
                                                          agricultural workers have access to. The problem is
Nuestra respuesta ante ésta política hegemónica que       that even Canadian agricultural workers are deprived
violenta nuestros derechos económicos, sociales,          of many minimum employment standards - in Ontario
culturales y ambientales, esta la construcción de ese     and Alberta this includes denying agricultural workers
otro mundo posible! en procesos como el FORO              the right to collectively bargain.
SOCIAL          MUNDIAL,             EL        FORO
MESOAMERICANO DE LOS PUEBLOS y diversas                   A consistent theme in Canadian immigration policy
expresiones que resistimos al Libre Comercio.             has been the constant search for workers “to take jobs
                                                          at the bottom rung of the occupational ladder.”
El Centro de Derechos Humanos Tepeyac del Istmo
                                                          The impetus for the creation of the CSAWP affirms
de Tehuantepec, A. C. es miembro de las siguientes
                                                          this statement. The CSAWP is motivated by growers’
                                                          and government’s inability to attract Canadians to
                                                          perform agricultural labour, as well as the need for a
 Alianza Mexicana por la Autodeterminación de los
                                                          “reliable” agricultural workforce. “Reliable” in this
                 Pueblos (AMAP)
                                                          context means no threat of leaving the job during
                                                          critical harvest periods despite low wages and difficult
 Red Mexicana de Acción Frente al Libre Comercio
                                                          working conditions.
                                In a nutshell, the program has been in existence for 40
 Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos           years based on a Memorandum of Understanding
                     Humanos                              between Canada and Mexico and Canada and
       “todos los derechos para todos” A. C.              Caribbean countries that allows Mexican and
                               Caribbean workers to enter Canada on a temporary
                Foro Migraciones                          basis to work in the fields. The CSAWP operates on a              seasonal basis during specific peak periods between
                                                          February 1 and December 15.
                                                          There are approximately 18,000 workers coming
                                                          annually - the majority to Ontario but also to Nova
  Precarious Status, Precarious Rights                    Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, Manitoba, Quebec,
The Mexican and Caribbean Seasonal Agricultural           Alberta and, most recently, British Columbia. The
              Worker Program                              Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and
                                                          Operational Guidelines provide that there be a country
                 Veena Verma                              representative here in Canada to act as the workers’
              Barrister & Solicitor                       representative.
            Cavalluzzo Hayes Shilton
            McIntyre & Cornish, LLP.                      The program also requires the execution of an
                Toronto, Ontario                          employment contract between the worker, the grower
                                                          and the government representative before the worker
I have been asked to give an overview of the              arrives in Canada. This contracts sets out the terms
challenges faced by seasonal agricultural workers and     and conditions of employment. There is simply not
how their temporary status undermines migrant             enough time here to go through the contract in detail,
workers’ rights. Because of time limits I am going        but I will touch on some key aspects that impact
focus first on how temporary status diminishes SAWP       migrant workers’ rights.
workers’ capacity to enforce their rights, thus making
them unequal to Canadian workers. Secondly, I will        Immigration Laws, Mobility Rights, and
talk about the possible solutions in terms of dispute     Prospects for Citizenship
resolution mechanisms. I will not have time to deal
with all of the specifics and details of what rights      ♦     Temporary status: Workers can            only do
migrant workers do or do not have under employment              agricultural work while in Canada.

                                                         Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering        28
♦     They must live on their employer’s property           ♦    Is the work likely to result in direct job creation
                                                                 or job retention for Canadian citizens or
Example of temporary status not giving equal rights:             permanent residents?
It is noted that currently CSAWP workers pay                ♦    Is the work likely to result in the creation or
premiums into the Canadian unemployment insurance                transfer of skills and knowledge for the benefit
scheme despite having no possibility of receiving                of Canadian citizens or permanent residents?
unemployment insurance benefits or retraining.              ♦    Is the work likely to fill a labour shortage?

The average length of stay in 2001 for Jamaican             The labour shortage in agriculture has been couched
workers was 14.2 weeks or 3.5 months. Mexican               in terminology of “reliability” and “suitability”. There
workers spent an average of 4.9 months in Canada.           is no shortage of low-skilled Canadian workers.
Upon completion of the term of employment as                Rather, the shortage is qualitative in that even
defined in the Employment Agreement and in the              unemployed Canadians refuse to work at low paying
work permit, the worker must promptly return home.          jobs in unsafe and poor working conditions. HRDC
                                                            describes the program today as responding “to a
A number of workers have been returning to Canada           critical shortage of available workers suitable for
on a seasonal basis for several years, working              seasonal agricultural work”. The suggestion is that
anywhere from 4-8 months of the year in Canada for          while Canadians are not “suitable” for this type of
up to 20 years. Despite the significant labour market       work, migrant labour from Mexico and the Caribbean
and social attachment these workers have created in         is “suitable” for otherwise difficult working
Canada, their years of labour in Canada are not             conditions. The discourse of linking labour shortages
recognized in relation to mobility rights or citizenship    with “suitability” carries with it the historical legacy
rights in Canada. The current program essentially           of stereotyping certain workers based on race, national
creates a class of “bonded” labour in Canada: it            origin, or ethnicity as being more tolerant of poor
disallows any opportunity for increased immigration         working conditions than Canadian workers.
opportunities for Mexican or Caribbean workers and
keeps them in the designated class of “migrant              ♦    Will the wages and working conditions offered
worker.”                                                         be sufficient to attract Canadian citizens or
                                                                 permanent residents to, and retain them in, that
Barriers to citizenship place migrant workers in a               work?
position of social and political disadvantage. Migrant
workers cannot vote for Canadian politicians who            Arguably, the current wage rates and working
have the power to campaign for improvements in              conditions are not sufficient to attract Canadians,
wages and working conditions. They have no way to           thereby necessitating the CSAWP.
influence Canadian authorities to address concerns
relating to their employment. Thus, migrant workers         When the Canadian government first considered the
are limited in their effective participation in the         importation of Caribbean labour in 1966 in response
political process.                                          to on-going agricultural labour shortages, it
                                                            highlighted that there should be “no danger whatever
General provisions of the Immigration and Refugee           of labour entering Canada on conditions that would be
Protection Act (IRPA)34 and Regulations35 relating          instrumental in holding down wages paid to Canadian
to the issuance of temporary work permits apply to          workers”. Hence, minimum wages and working
CSAWP workers: HRDC is required to provide a                conditions were established before Caribbean workers
labour market opinion on the likely effect of               could enter under the CSAWP. The Minister of
approving a work permit for a temporary foreign             Citizenship and Immigration at that time stated: “They
worker by considering factors that are listed below.36      [wages and conditions] ensure that there will be no
                                                            undercutting of Canadian labour.”
   2001, c. 27.                                             While the government initially demanded that growers
   SOR/2002-227                                             improve wages and working conditions for
   s. 203(3) of the Regulations.                            agricultural workers, the historical policy choice
                                                            shifted to allow the importation of migrant workers
                                                            who would accept current conditions. HRDC is now

                                                           Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering      29
obligated under IRPA to review whether the wage            Dispute Resolution
rates and working conditions offered to CSAWP
workers are wages and working conditions that would        The dispute The dispute resolution mechanism in the
attract Canadians. The implications of this will be        administration of the program is informal and
discussed in later in relation to the necessity of an      consultative. It works primarily through the
enforceable dispute resolution process for migrant         Government Agents. If workers or employers have a
workers.                                                   conflict or dispute, they are instructed to call the
                                                           Government Agent or the local HRDC. It is the role
♦    Has the employer made or agreed to make,              of the Government Agent to exercise his or her
     reasonable efforts to hire or train Canadian          discretion to address these situations. If Government
     citizens or permanent residents?                      Agents require assistance from a Canadian
♦    Will the employment of the foreign national be        government body (HRDC, Ministry of Health, etc.)
     likely to adversely affect the settlement of any      they contact the appropriate individual. HRDC sees its
     labour dispute in progress or the employment of       role in disputes as a neutral mediator or facilitator and
     any person involved in the dispute?                   admits that while it may intervene, it cannot solve the
                                                           If all of these efforts fail, the consulate always has the
The vague language of the repatriation provisions that     ultimate authority to remove a worker from a farm for
give employers the right to repatriate workers without     the grower’s breach of contract, and transfer him/her
further compensation for “non-compliance, refusal to       to another farm. However, this assumes that another
work, or any other sufficient reason,” allows the          position can be found for the worker.
employer to arbitrarily remove workers from their
property with no formal right of appeal. The               If a dispute cannot be resolved through consultation,
premature repatriation provisions significantly            the grower may repatriate the worker. The
undermine the migrant workers’ ability to enforce any      Employment Agreement provides a wide, unfettered
rights they may have.                                      discretion to the employer to prematurely repatriate a
                                                           worker for “non-compliance, refusal to work, or any
The worker’s vulnerability is compounded by the fact       other sufficient reason.” There is no independent
that as non-citizens they have no rights of mobility       adjudicator to interpret these words except, arguably,
while in Canada. The worker may legally stay in            the courts. But as discussed earlier, it is highly
Canada until the expiry of the work permit, regardless     unlikely that an agricultural worker would be in a
of the employers’ decision to rescind the contract.        position to file any proceeding in the courts.
However, if the employer triggers these provisions,
the practical effect is that the worker is also            The government likes this model because it is flexible
immediately removed from the grower's property,            and cost-effective. It was assumed by one government
requiring costs for alternative accommodation to be        official that there is a “gentleman's agreement” among
incurred at the same time as employment income has         the consulates that if one consulate will not provide
ceased. Moreover, the worker is prohibited from            workers to “bad” employers, then the rest will not
working for another employer unless the consulate is       provide the grower with a worker. However, in
able to find another farm for the worker. If a transfer    practice, this is not the case. It was admitted in
placement is not available, there is some urgency to       research interviews that despite learning from another
return the worker home in order to avoid any               Government Agent that a worker had been
additional costs for room and board.                       involuntarily repatriated, when a request came in from
                                                           the employer to replace the repatriated worker, the
In summary, if an employer decides to prematurely          Government Agent agreed.
repatriate a worker, the only option for the worker is
either to find employment on another farm through the      The competitive structure of the program creates
worker’s government agent, or to go home. It is            pressures to be inattentive to the individual worker’s
extremely difficult, as the grower knows, for the          concerns, due to the potential loss of a grower to
worker to attempt any claim for damages for breach of      another country. The ability to simply switch to
contract in these circumstances.                           another country also increases the degree of employer
                                                           power over workers and the Government agents. The

                                                          Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering        30
Government Agents noted that employers lack                   2) the hiring of migrant agricultural workers must not
accountability if there is a dispute in the interpretation    result in wages and working conditions unattractive to
of the contract. It was suggested that there should be a      Canadian workers.
mechanism to terminate employers’ access to the               Canadian agricultural workers have access to
program. Another Government Agent estimated that              employment related tribunals and courts to enforce
approximately 35 probationary workers per year may            their rights. Migrant agricultural workers may also
be repatriated at the discretion of the employer with         theoretically access these mechanisms. However,
no recourse.                                                  migrant workers do not have the same labour mobility
                                                              rights as Canadian workers and may be subject to
The current mechanism makes workers particularly              premature repatriation before migrant workers are
vulnerable. At present, their only contact to attempt to      able to access or realize their rights under mechanisms
resolve a dispute is with the Government Agent.               otherwise available to Canadian workers. That is, if a
However, if the Government Agent disagrees with the           Canadian worker is fired by an employer, he or she is
worker's position, then this leaves the worker with no        free to find another job within Canada. On the other
independent representation and he or she is left to his       hand, if a migrant worker is fired, he or she is
or her own devices. Other disincentives also operate          immediately returned home with minimal prospects of
against a worker filing a complaint:                          re-employment, and he or she may also be barred
                                                              from future participation in the program. The unique
1. The Government Agent may not have the resources            circumstances of migrant agricultural workers and
or staff to respond or investigate the complaint, which       their lack of mobility rights raise the question of
has been especially the case with Mexico;                     whether these workers are provided treatment equal to
                                                              Canadian workers when the effect of the repatriation
2. The worker fears the threat of repatriation;
                                                              provisions makes it difficult to enforce their rights.
3. The worker fears being “blacklisted” by their
employer and/or Government Agents from future                 The current mechanism allows for the earlier-stated
participation in the program.                                 policy objectives to be undermined because the effect
                                                              of the CSAWP's structure denies migrant workers
One policy answer may be that the migrant worker              equal access to dispute resolution mechanisms
and the employer are in a private employment                  otherwise available to Canadian workers. This in turn
contractual relationship. Migrant workers are in the          leads to the potential of leaving poor working
same position as any other Canadian employee and              conditions unaddressed. If poor working conditions
should not have any greater rights with respect to the        persist, agricultural work will continue to be
contractual relationship.                                     unattractive to Canadian low-skilled workers.
                                                              Therefore, from a public policy perspective, migrant
However, the migrant worker's employment                      agricultural workers and employers should have an
relationship and contract should be examined in the           accessible, enforceable mechanism to ensure due
context of the policy objectives of the CSAWP.                process for complaints. While flexibility and cost-
Unlike other employee-employer relationships, the             effective mechanisms are worthy considerations,
migrant worker has no input into the contractual              structuring and checking discretion will also
arrangement into which he or she is entering.                 strengthen the instrumental framework as a credible
Assuming that the Canadian Government realizes that           mechanism by preventing the potential for arbitrary
the migrant worker has very little bargaining power to        decision-making and creating procedural fairness for
negotiate such contracts, a standard Employment               workers. The call for a mechanism that guarantees due
Agreement has been created on their behalf in order to        process is consistent with standards in international
avoid exploitation of migrant workers. If this purpose        conventions applicable to migrant workers.37 It is also
is to be realized, then there must also be effective          consistent with the Supreme Court of Canada's
enforcement.                                                  remarks in Dunmore, infra that from the workers’
There are two relevant policy objectives in the               perspective, it may be in their best interest to have a
CSAWP instruments and immigration laws relevant to            more formalized dispute resolution process.
dispute resolution models: 1) migrant workers are to          37
                                                                UN International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of
be afforded equal treatment to Canadian workers, and          All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families

                                                             Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering             31
 The Live-In Caregiver Program in the                       same time this arrangement fulfills the Philippines’
                                                            need for foreign currency through the remittances of
   Context of Today’s Globalization                         these cheap live-in caregivers.

                 Cecilia Diocson                            Slide #3
               Executive Director
National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada             The Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) is the latest
                 Vancouver, BC                              development in Canada’s 100 year history of
                                                            recruiting foreign women to work as domestic
                                                            workers. There have been various schemes that
Power Point Presentation
                                                            changed over time, such as the Caribbean program,
                                                            which brought in women from the Caribbean in the
Slide #1
                                                            1950s and 1960s, the Temporary Employment Act
Since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990’s, the      (TEA) in the 1970s, the Foreign Domestic Movement
international economy has been mainly propelled by          (FDM) in 1981 and the LCP which started in 1992.
the neo-liberal agenda of globalization. This means
                                                            From an ad hoc scheme of bringing in these foreign
that there should be “open” and “free” movement of
                                                            women, this practice was finally given legislative
commodities and capital for export and import in the
                                                            approval with the LCP becoming part of the
global market. But this open movement does not
                                                            Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).
extend to people, especially working people, whose
capacity to work has now become commodity for sale          Slide #4
in the competitive global marketplace. Their migration
continues to be regulated and restricted by both            The LCP has three fundamental pillars:
sending and receiving states through immigration
policies and other state-sanctioned regulations.                1. A mandatory live-in requirement, which
                                                                   makes it illegal for a live-in caregiver to live
Nations of the South export their people to advanced               outside the home of her/his employer during
capitalist countries of the North that need cheap                  the course of the contract.
labour. The Philippines, as early as the 1970’s,                2. Temporary immigration status. Program
developed the Labour Export Program (LEP). This is                 participants must complete 24 months of live-
a government-sponsored program that exports people,                in work within 3 years before applying for
known as overseas Filipino workers or OFWs, as                     permanent status. This requirement makes
cheap labour in the global market and as a major                   caregivers vulnerable to deportation if they
source of foreign earnings to help pay for foreign                 are not able to fulfill this requirement.
debts and keep the government functioning. The                  3. An employer-specific work permit, which ties
remittances sent home by these workers total 10 to 13              domestic workers to a single employer (at
billion US dollars a year, and serve to mitigate the               any time) and makes them vulnerable to
harsh impact of the economic and political crisis in the           abuse and arbitrary demands.
Philippines, helping to reduce social tension and
opposition.                                                 Slide #5

In Canada, the government has developed the Live-in         Under the Foreign Domestic Movement (FDM), live-
Caregiver Program (LCP), which is a program that            in caregivers generally performed only two major
brings in people who are mainly from the South, to          types of work: child care and light housekeeping.
work as domestic workers and to care for the young,         More types of work were added when the Live-in
the elderly and people with disabilities.                   Caregiver Program (LCP) replaced the FDM in 1992.
                                                            Under the LCP, there are now four major areas of
                                                            work that women under the program may be required
Slide #2
                                                            to do:
Hence, under the present neo-liberal agenda of
                                                                1.   Child care
globalization, there is the regulated movement of live-
                                                                2.   Care of the elderly
in caregivers from the Philippines. The Philippines’
                                                                3.   Care of people with disabilities
LEP supplies Canada’s demand for cheap labour of
                                                                4.   Housekeeping and other household chores
domestic workers through the latter’s LCP. At the

                                                           Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering     32
Hence, advocates such as the Philippine Women’s                    high level of education and having practiced
Centre of B.C. call the LCP a program that looks after             their profession in the Philippines.
people “from cradle to grave and from stroller to             3.   Downward economic mobility as they find
wheelchair.” They also insist that the LCP acts as a               difficulty in moving up to other good paying
substitute for a public policy response to the growing             jobs outside the live-in caregiver program.
child care and health care needs of Canadians.                4.   Being tied down to a single employer at
                                                                   minimum wage virtually legislates these
Slide #6                                                           women into poverty.
                                                              5.   Even after they are done with the program,
The Filipino community in Canada is one of the
                                                                   many of these women continue to be stuck in
fastest growing immigrant communities. As of the
                                                                   low-paying “dead-end” jobs, having been de-
end of 2005, there were between 450,000 and 500,000
                                                                   skilled, and with their past education and
Filipinos in Canada.
                                                                   training not recognized.
                                                              6.   Because of a lack of economic opportunity
♦    In the 1990’s the Philippines was the third
                                                                   and poverty, some of these women have
     largest source country of immigrants.
                                                                   become victims of prostitution and sex-
♦    From 2000 to 2004, the Philippines was the                    trafficking.
     fourth largest source country of immigrants.
♦    65% - 70% of Filipinos in Canada are women,          Slide #10
     with many coming in under the LCP.
                                                          Academics involved in research on Filipino domestic
Slide #7                                                  workers and the Filipino community have come up
                                                          with the following results on the economic impacts of
According to 2005 statistics from the Canadian            the LCP:
embassy in Manila, Filipino women make up over
95.6% of domestic workers in Canada even as they              •    Prof. Gerry Pratt, University of British
constitute only 2.2% of all Filipino domestic workers              Columbia, 2003:
outside the Philippines. This shows how much Canada                o      These women suffer from long-term
benefits from the LEP of the Philippines and how                       downward occupational mobility as they
effectively Canada’s LCP program provides cheap                        continue to do domestic work as
child care, care for the elderly and people with                       housekeepers and home care workers.
disabilities, and other domestic work.
                                                              •    Prof. Dan Hiebert, University of British
Slide #8                                                           Columbia, 1997:
                                                                   o      Filipino women are more likely than
Since we began researching and advocating for the
                                                                       others to be housekeepers and child care
live-in caregivers, we have seen the various negative
impacts of the LCP on these women and their
                                                                   o      Filipino women experience a higher
                                                                       degree of occupational segmentation than
    1.   The economic impact                                           any other group of women.
    2.   The political impact                                      o      Filipino women make up 52% of
    3.   The social impact                                             median income women in Vancouver.
    4.   The cultural impact
                                                          Slide #11
Slide #9
                                                          In terms of political impact, our continuing work with
Some of the economic impacts are:                         these women shows the following:

    1. De-skilling. Women lose their skills and their         1. The LCP undermines the general women’s
       professional knowledge over time as they                  struggle for equality, democracy and human
       continue working as domestic workers                      rights.
    2. Non-accreditation and non-recognition of               2. Because of their precarious and uncertain
       education and training despite the relatively             status as temporary workers, live-in
                                                                 caregivers cannot freely participate in the

                                                         Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering    33
        political affairs of the host society, thus               24 month live-in requirement within 3 years,
        further disempowering them and increasing                 or for living outside the home even with
        social inequality.                                        permission of the employer.
   3.   The program creates a pool of people (mostly           5. Their economic and social marginalization
        women) whose rights can be easily violated                continues to undermine their successful
        both in the workplace and society at large                integration and settlement in a multicultural
        simply because of their temporary status,                 society even after they have already finished
        despite relatively long years of stay in                  with the program.
        Canada. They are outside the Canadian
        citizenship circle and its attendant rights and    Slide #13
        privileges even as they directly contribute to
                                                           The cultural impacts of the program on these women
        the Canadian economy.
                                                           are as follows:
   4.   There is delay or denial of immigrant or
        permanent resident status which can lead to
                                                               1. Even when they become residents and
        deportation due to bureaucratic hurdles and
                                                                  citizens, these women continue to be victims
        neglect in the timely processing of their
                                                                  of systemic racism and discrimination. There
                                                                  is still no recognition of their past skills and
   5.   Because they cannot vote, advocacy on their
                                                                  educational training.
        behalf is hardly recognized or given attention
                                                               2. Their marginalized position leads to growing
        in political debates. The LCP hardly enters
                                                                  social alienation, thus impeding smooth
        into discussions on universal daycare and
                                                                  transition towards settlement and integration.
        health care when it is obvious that the LCP,
                                                               3. Individual and collective disempowerment
        and the women under it, are being used to
                                                                  abounds among these women as they continue
        address these two issues.
                                                                  to feel the impact of the program.
   6.   These women lack the necessary legal aid and
                                                               4. The long separation, along with their
        support when they encounter problems
                                                                  economic difficulties and marginalization,
        because of their status as non-immigrants.
                                                                  causes alienation of children from their
Slide #12                                                         parents, as well as alienation between families
                                                                  and the larger society.
The social impacts of the LCP on these women are as            5. The program reduces, if not denies,
follows:                                                          participation in civic and community affairs
                                                                  that help make for igood citizenship and
   1. Their lack of permanent status as immigrants                social involvement.
      has deepened their experience of systemic                6. If they do make social contributions, the
      racism and discrimination because they made                 women feel that these are tokenized or
      to feel that they are not part of the imagined              reduced to songs, dances and food - all in the
      Canadian community.                                         name of multiculturalism. Hence, there is
   2. Their status under the LCP has made many of                 hardly any closing of the citizenship divide
      them unwilling to complain in the face of                   inherent in the program.
      violence against their person because they
                                                           Slide #14
      fear that complaints would negatively impact
      their future opportunities to gain permanent         Through years of advocacy, education and working
      residency and eventual citizenship.                  with these women, we have come to develop several
   3. They continue to suffer long separation              action plans that help empower them and get them to
      because they cannot bring in their families          engage in social advocacy and campaign for the
      under the program. Our study shows that              scrapping of the LCP. Among these actions plans are:
      separation, on average, lasts from 5 to 8 years,
      thus making these women virtual strangers                1. We support the efforts of KAIROS and other
      from their families once they reunite either in             advocates in helping empower the community
      the Philippines or in Canada.                               to struggle for their rights, welfare and social
   4. Many suffer deportation even for minor non-                 justice.
      compliances, such as failure to complete the

                                                          Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering     34
    2. We continue to educate, organize and                billion US dollars a year to the Philippine economy
       mobilize the community, particularly those          through their remittances.
       who are impacted by the LCP.
    3. We build alliances with other communities,          This is the particular context of the phenomenon of
       groups and individuals who support our              Filipino migration today. Related to this is the
       programs.                                           relentless drive for expansion of corporate-driven
                                                           globalization. This causes social and economic
________________________________________________           dislocation and keeps draining off human and natural
                                                           resources from countries of the South into the centres
                                                           of global capitalism in the North. Propelling this
               Empowering                                  globalization is an economic system that continuously
                                                           expands and seeks markets for its surplus products
    the Filipino Canadian Community                        and capital and utilizes the cheapest labour and raw
                                                           materials available in order to sustain its accumulation
                   Marco Luciano                           process.
                  Toronto, Ontario                         Filipinos in Canada

I would like to thank the organizers of this event for     I don’t want to go into the details of the history of the
inviting me to share our experiences today. Siklab is a    Filipino community in Canada. I just want to
Filipino migrant workers alliance in Canada that has       emphasize certain major points that should help give
chapters in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa.       some perspective and context to our organizing work.
                                                           What we do presently, as a community, is based on
In order to organize ourselves, it is important to go      our understanding of the history of Filipino migration
back to the roots of our migration. And while the roots    in Canada. This way we are able to understand the
of our migration go back to the Philippines, the           continuity from the past to the present and to the
branches and the fruit of this migration are               future.
continuously re-defined and re-examined in the
                                                           Within the context of the history of Canada, Filipinos
context of a reality where we are part of an ethnic
                                                           are relatively recent immigrants. Prior to 1967, the
minority and people of colour in a largely white
                                                           number of Filipinos was so small that immigration
                                                           statistics lumped Filipinos together with other Asian
                                                           immigrants under the category "Asians not elsewhere
                                                           specified." Today, we are one of the fastest growing
                                                           immigrant groups in Canada. Nationally, there are
The Philippines, as a neo-colony of the US, has always
                                                           400,000 or more Filipinos in Canada and more than
been in a state of chronic economic crisis. Its economy
                                                           135,000 in the Greater Toronto Area. About 65% of
does not have the capacity to absorb the expanding
                                                           Filipinos in Canada are women - thus, giving
labour force and to provide appropriate wages and
                                                           credibility to the trend in the feminization of
proper social services to its people. These problems
prevent the Philippine economy from developing in
ways that serve the basic needs of the Filipino people.    In the last two and a half decades, a growing number
                                                           of Filipinos in Canada have come through Canada’s
Because of this chronic economic crisis, millions of       Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP). The LCP is an
Filipinos are forced to migrate or to seek employment      exploitative and racist policy that sentences people,
abroad. Also, the Philippine government's policy of        mainly women, to a lifetime of live-in domestic,
exporting Filipino labour as a means to reduce             cleaning and other service sector work. It steals their
unemployment, diffuse social tension and increase          dignity and strips them of previous experiences and
foreign remittances to help pay for foreign loans keeps    education. Therefore, even after they finish their 24
the pressure on Filipinos to become overseas migrant       month contractual requirement as live-in domestics,
workers.                                                   most continue to be low wage workers trapped as a
                                                           segregated pool of cheap labour.
Today, it is estimated that 10 million Filipinos are
outside the Philippines contributing an average of 8

                                                          Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering       35
Canada’s need for immigrants                                    3. It means doing continuous research and study
                                                                   of our community and the experience of its
On the other hand, just like any advanced capitalist               members.
country, Canada opens or closes its borders to                  4. In the end, it means decolonising our minds
migration in response to the dynamics of supply and                both individually and collectively and
demand for labour in the process of capital                        rediscovering our culture of resistance and
accumulation and in the context of global economic                 continuing struggle for social justice and
competition.                                                       equality.
Building our Community
                                                            This is why it is important to see the links between our
For several decades now, Filipinos in Canada have           struggle for rights and welfare in Canada and the
organized. Sectoral groups were formed in Montreal,         struggle of the Filipino people for national liberation.
Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver to address
specific and general issues affecting us and linking        With that as the foundation of our knowledge, we try
this in the crisis in the Philippine society. These         to move towards the task of educating, mobilizing and
groups were strengthened by the formation of                organizing our community. This is a continuing
Migrante International, a global alliance of overseas       process that SIKLAB - the Filipino migrant workers
Filipino migrant organizations back in 1996.                organization - took on, in hopes of sharing these
                                                            experiences with our community and other migrants in
As individual organizations continued to do good            building a new and empowered migrant community in
work in different provinces and some efforts were           Canada.
coordinated in the national level, we started to see the
need to have a national organizational mechanism:           Thank you.
thus SIKLAB Canada was formed in October 2005.
As more Filipinos are driven to seek employment
abroad, including in Canada, this formation will help
us in our national advocacy against the deportation of         Defending the rights of agricultural
live-in caregivers, and will support local campaigns. It              workers in Quebec
will also aid us in participating more actively in the
international arena, where it is increasingly clear that                       Patricia Perez
progressive forces need to recognize the strategic role            Centre d’appui pour les travailleurs et
that migrant labour is playing in both host and sending              travailleuses agricoles saisonniers
countries.                                                                   Montreal, Quebec
Towards building a new community                            I. Identification of the problem

In building a new and empowered community, we               To be in a position to find a solution, first there must
take into account some important and interrelated           be an acknowledgement of the existence of a problem.
issues that provide the basis for our long term and         However, in the case of the Seasonal Agricultural
immediate programs of action.                               Workers Program, participating governments deny the
                                                            existence of a problem.
    1. Understanding these issues in order for them
       to become tools in the project of empowering         It is truly shocking, given the serious problems
       our community takes patience and time.               experienced by seasonal agricultural workers, that the
    2. It means critical re-examination of our history      Canadian government continues to proclaim the
       and the roots of our migration. It means not         success of this program, and that other countries are
       merely accepting the ideas about our people          now using it as a model.
       and our history that are fed to us by others -
       those who are content with the present               Given this perspective, our future is clear: “We fight
       situation.                                           against the current” because the governments do not
                                                            want to recognize that this program permits employers

                                                           Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering      36
to scorn fundamental labor and human rights and treat       and community organizations. These groups are
workers as disposable products that are easy to             typically rejected and discredited by employers, by
replace.                                                    government agencies and sometimes by those in the
                                                            community who feel their financial interests to be
II. The inaction from Foreign Governments                   threatened.

In the province of Quebec, agricultural producers have      In my own experience, the emergence of the Coalition
been accustomed to controlling foreign agricultural         d’Appui aux Travailleurs et Travailleuses Agricoles
labor for their own benefit, practicing discrimination      (C.A.T.T.A.) in Quebec gave rise to a virulent
and abuse with complete impunity. This situation is         reaction by employers and government - a reaction
created by the indifference and inaction of                 that included media campaigns discrediting the
government bodies.                                          Coalition. In their own words, this was “a declaration
                                                            of war.”
When I speak of the indifference and inaction of
sending country governments, I refer to two aspects:        We have won some gains. Thanks to the alliance of
                                                            the Coalition and the UFCW, the Migrant Workers
    1. In the countries of origin, the work of these        Support Centre opened in Saint-Remi. At this point,
       farm labourers is looked down on and                 media attention to the labour situation and organizing
       discriminated against. As a consequence of           efforts of the agricultural workers changed radically.
       this prejudice, government institutions in
       charge of the administration and supervision         However, even now, the conditions under which we
       of the program do not provide adequate               realize our work are far from easy. From the early
       services to meet the needs of these workers.         days of the Coalition I started to receive threats: “We
                                                            have put a price on your head.” The threats and
    2. Due to the financial and commercial interests        intimidation continue today.
       inherent in the relationship between Canada
       and the countries providing agricultural labor,      After 2004, no property manager was willing to rent
       consular officials cannot ensure the protection      us a place in which to carry out the activities of the
       and representation of these workers without          Migrant Workers Support Centre. It was then that the
       an alarming conflict of interests.                   union provided us with a Winnebago, which we have
                                                            turned into an office on wheels. Although this has
From here comes our affirmation that the diplomatic         helped to facilitate the work of the Centre, the
officials of the foreign governments in Canada do not       situation of the workers continues to be precarious.
assume an integral and complete defense of the              We still lack space for teaching French courses, and
workers’ rights. Furthermore, they should not               holding workshops about job norms and human rights.
continue to retain the role of representing the workers.    We also lack the privacy needed to give a confidential
This is all the more critical in that embassies and         hearing to workers who wish to report an incident.
consulates cannot enforce Canadian laws, nor are they
themselves subject to Canadian laws, whether federal
                                                            Furthermore, the farmers intensified their campaign of
or provincial.
                                                            intimidation against merchants who had provided us
                                                            with a parking space for our mobile Centre. I myself
This means that the Canadian government and
                                                            have also received midnight phone calls from
agricultural employers use the foreign consulates as
                                                            employers that tell me: “you have no right to incite
legitimizing bodies that allow, and sometimes
                                                            my workers,” or “do you know that, thanks to your
encourage with their inaction, impunity for rights
                                                            intervention, no Mexican worker will be requested
violations executed by employers against the foreign
                                                            next year?”
                                                            Some Quebec employers have actually fulfilled these
III. The alliance of CATTA & UFCW – Support
                                                            threats by replacing all of their Mexican workers with
                                                            Guatemalan workers. Approximately 300 Guatemalan
                                                            workers have come to Quebec under slightly different
It is due to this that other organizations have emerged
                                                            arrangements from the SAWP. This change yields a
to defend the workers, like unions, religious groups

                                                           Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering     37
profit for the farmer, since the Guatemalan workers                            El Sembrador
are obliged to pay $30.00/week to their employer for
rent.                                                                           Jean Lashley,
Agents from the Mexican and Guatemalan Consulates,                   Parish Social Ministry Coordinator,
upon the arrival of workers at the airport in Montreal,      St. John Chrysostom, St. Elizabeth Seton, and Holy
advise them that “if they want to keep their job, to                     Martyrs of Japan Parishes
avoid getting close to us [the Coalition].”                                 Newmarket, Ontario

However, we have not allowed any of these hostile            Thank you to KAIROS and to all of you present for
actions to debilitate or intimidate us. In our campaign,     this opportunity to speak. I work as parish social
we must demonstrate to the farm workers that we              ministry coordinator with the local Catholic parishes
maintain our strength and that there always will be          in the Holland Marsh area, a vegetable growing region
somebody who will listen and support them.                   north of Toronto. I am here with El Sembrador, a
                                                             team of parishioners who work with the Mexican
Alliances are critical in this work. Without the support     seasonal agricultural workers who have been coming
of the union, the Quebec farmers would have easily           to the Marsh for over 20 years. Our team includes a
killed the farm workers movement.                            large number of people who are immigrants or
                                                             refugees from Latin America, who have a lot of
IV. Challenges: Memory vs opportunism                        insight into what it is to be a newcomer, separated
                                                             from family, unfamiliar with the language and culture.
Another challenge that we must confront is the
opportunism of people and institutions that try to give      El Sembrador started in 1999 as a response to the
themselves profile by getting involved in the                “invisible” workers in our midst. Its goal was - and
organization of the workers. These groups sometimes          still is - to provide spiritual support and ties of
use the information given to the workers or to the           friendship. By ties of friendship we mean more than
media for their own purposes, without having done            spending time together in social activities – we mean
any serious field work and without having lived the          establishing true relationships.
reality that the workers are confronted with on a day-
to-day basis. There is a danger here of                      The process that brought us to a consciousness of
misinformation, or of losing the attention of the media      justice issues began in our time together, in shared
or of society.                                               worship, in community building. From the start, we
                                                             included farm visits in our work, because we knew
It is therefore urgent that we all work together and
                                                             that some workers were so isolated by location, lack
remain unified, in order to preserve the memory and
                                                             of transportation and long work hours that their only
make it come alive as many times as necessary to the
                                                             contact with the community would happen if the
workers and to the society in general.
                                                             community came to them. During our shared time
We are convinced that the organizing work to keep            together, on farm visits or at the church, we shared
alive the memory of rights abuses exerts the necessary       stories. (I am impressed again by the number of
social pressure to force a change of attitude on the part    individuals who have been willing to share their
of the governments and employers. When we start to           personal stories at this conference, especially when we
forget, we condemn ourselves to a repetition of              know that publicly telling these stories carries
events. This makes us vulnerable as workers and              considerable risk.) As a result of these shared stories,
pulverizes efforts to better the conditions of society.      we discovered the need for all kinds of support. We
                                                             began by trying to assist with providing services such
Our political responsibility obliges us to work for an       as English language instruction, translation, help with
accumulation of strength through alliances built not on      income tax and other forms, help with getting medical
partisan devices, but on the strengths of progressive        attention. Eventually we saw patterns and we realized
unions and the struggle of the people against capital.       that there were problems with the system that brings
                                                             these workers to Canada, and we recognized the
We must demonstrate UNITY, STRENGTH and                      vulnerabilities and injustices that workers face. I can
DIGNITY, because only until then will the workers            remember sitting at the first meetings when we started
follow our example and lose their fear.                      to ask questions – Why can’t we do something about

                                                            Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering      38
the cost of sending remittances home? Why aren’t the          We have supported the work of Frontier College in the
workers getting information about work safety? Why            provision of English language classes and literacy and
can’t the workers choose to immigrate here with their         numeracy support, which improves workers’
families?                                                     connections with the community.

All of this is rooted for us in the social teaching of our    Some community agencies have been helpful.
church, rooted in the Gospel. The central part of our         Catholic Community Services of York Region,
social teaching is the dignity of the person. This            because it is partly funded by private donor and Share
dignity means that people have a right to work and to         Life dollars, can go beyond its government mandate
be paid justly for their work and to work safely. They        for settlement services and provide some support for
have a right to be able to support their families and         migrant workers.
have a healthy family life. They have a right to
organize as workers and have a voice in matters that          The academic world has provided important support.
affect them. The Canadian Conference of Catholic              Because of the growing research on the subject of
Bishops released a letter in January of this year on          migrant workers, done by people like Dr. Kerry
Refugees and Migrants that reinforces these concerns.         Preibisch, a sociologist from the University of Guelph,
                                                              we have more data to use in arguing for better systems
Why do we need to collaborate and build alliances and         from government. Research institutes like the North -
solidarity?                                                   South Institute fund this research and play a role in
                                                              using the research to move towards social and
First, we are limited. We are only a few people, with         political change.
limited time and skills and knowledge. We cannot do
it alone. Secondly, the workers are isolated and those        We have found tremendous value in collaborating
of us who work with them are also isolated. Unless            with the union movement and the UFCW in particular,
we reach out, that isolation will destroy us.                 which is carrying on the pioneering work of the
                                                              United Farm Workers in addressing the concerns of
In order to get help establishing needed services we          migrant agricultural workers. They have set up
need to call on others to help. We also need to create        migrant worker support centres that have addressed
larger networks so that education of the broader              many of the day to day concerns of the workers. They
community can happen – we cannot build awareness              have tackled the huge problems around occupational
without communication with others. It is easier to            health and safety. They have also taken on the role of
build collaboration around services, but ultimately the       advocating for systemic change.
purpose of our collaboration goes beyond provision of
services, beyond individual advocacy, to trying to            We do have some limited successes. It is still early
build systems that are more just in a larger context.         days in many ways for this struggle. At El Sembrador,
                                                              the foundation for success lies in creating a
Our experience in collaboration has been limited but          community, a web of relationships and friendships
essential to what we are and do. Within the Catholic          where what happens to each person matters. More
Church, we have a good network in the Diocese of              broadly, we have a local community that is more
London in southwestern Ontario addressing the                 aware of our brothers and sisters from Mexico, and we
pastoral and social needs of migrant agricultural             are not quite as “invisible” as we once were, although
workers. We have worked in a limited way with a               we are still fairly low in profile.
number of local Catholic parishes in the Holland
Marsh area. And we are witnessing a growing interest          We still have huge challenges, and we have not
in and awareness of issues that affect migrants by the        devoted significant resources in our churches and our
Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops (through the           communities to this.
Social Affairs Commission) and the Canadian
Conference of Catholic Bishops. Locally, other faith          Perhaps our success can best be expressed as a hope.
groups including the Salvation Army and the Christian         We hope that this conference will help in the process
Reformed Church have assisted us. On a much                   of building alliances between churches, community
broader scale, KAIROS is addressing the issues, as            activists, unions, academics, politicians, agencies and
apparent in the present National Migrant Justice              service providers. We hope that this conference will
Gathering.                                                    widen our context further to include the concerns of

                                                             Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering     39
all guest workers and undocumented workers. We               groundwork, we can build even the tallest and biggest
hope that we will understand and address the global          mega-structures.
issues that set up conditions that create these guest
worker programs. We hope that the unity statement            Take, for example, the following:
that we are trying to develop here will provide a
                                                             Case Study 1 – The Asian Migrants Coordinating
chance to give a much larger voice to the efforts to
                                                             Body in Hong Kong (AMCB – HK)
establish justice for all migrant and undocumented
workers, all those whose labour fuels our economy            Even before the inception of the AMCB, there was
while they are excluded from participation. Our goal         already a strong alliance among Filipino migrant
is that we move closer to just systems and that the          organizations - the United Filipinos in Hong Kong
voice of the migrant be heard.                               (now, UNIFIL-Migrante-HK). There also exist
                                                             organizations    among     the    Nepalese, Thais,
                                                             Indonesians, Sri Lankans and Indians.
                                                             The AMCB started in 1994 in the form of cultural
 The Grave Attack on Migrants’ Rights                        exchanges among migrants of different nationalities to
        Taught Us One Thing:                                 deepen their knowledge and understanding of each
          Get Organized! Build Alliances!                    other. It also became an avenue to know the specific
                                                             issues of each of these groups. In 1998, when migrants
                  Ramon Bultron                              experienced the first threat of a wage cut, the AMCB
                Managing Director                            started to launch activities tackling migrant issues.
    Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)                 The campaign, and the mass actions they launched,
                    Hong Kong                                further galvanized their resolve to strengthen their
                                                             ranks by seriously transforming AMCB from a mere
First of all I would like to thank the organizers of this    cultural exchange into an alliance of organizations of
conference for inviting me to share and to learn about       migrants of various nationalities. Since then, the
how we can better promote and protect the rights and         AMCB has become the main campaign centre for
welfare of migrant workers. I was asked to share with        migrants in defending against attacks on their rights
you our experiences in organizing work on an                 and neglect of their welfare by both the Hong Kong
international level, though much of my sharing will be       government and their home country governments.
experiences from the Asia-Pacific region.
                                                             The AMCB remained strong because the
When the Asia-Pacific Mission for Migrants or the            organizations that belong to it are continuously
APMM was established in 1984, it did not come out            expanding and consolidating their membership.
of nowhere. Rather, it was a product of the
development of the work of the Mission for Migrant           This alliance also became an avenue for members to
Workers in Hong Kong, a local mission established in         assist and help each other in expanding and
1981 to attend to the plight of migrant workers in           consolidating the organizations. Take the case of
Hong Kong.                                                   ATKI (Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers).
                                                             Member organizations of Migrante, plus the
                                                             Coordinator of APMM in Macau, directly assisted in
I am sharing with you this point in our history to stress
                                                             the formation of ATKI in Macau. This experience is
the principle and the belief that any initiative for
                                                             being replicated in other countries which then help the
international cooperation and action does not start
                                                             migrants strengthen their ranks and build the true
from the top, but rather is a product of a continuous
                                                             spirit of international solidarity.
spiral growth of endeavors from the grassroots level.
Likewise, with the migrant movement, any national or         Case Study 2 – The Migrants Trade Union in
international alliance can be assured of continuing          South Korea (MTU – South Korea)
growth and strength only if its base is strong. And
when I talk about the “base”, I am referring to strong       The formation of the MTU in South Korea is a
organizations of migrants themselves, who are the            collaborative effort of the migrant workers
only real assurance against attacks on their rights.         organizations and the Korean Confederation of Trade
Imagine constructing a house with weak foundations.          Unions (KCTU). Many members of the MTU are
Won’t it inevitably collapse? But by having strong

                                                            Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering     40
undocumented migrant sweatshops workers from              than 20 major country-destinations of Filipino
Bangladesh, Indonesia, Indo-China, Philippines, etc.      migrants. As of its last Congress in 2005, the
                                                          membership of Migrante had grown to about 95
The local union has been playing a vital role in          organizations. Its Executive Committee is based in the
fighting for the rights of undocumented migrants. It      Philippines, though it has a Global Council that
was very obvious that it would be difficult for           includes members overseas to make decisions in
undocumented migrants to openly campaign against          between its Congresses.
any policy that is detrimental to them, because of the
threat of reprisal and crackdown by immigration           In the early 1990s, APMM initiated the formation     of
authorities. But this did not mean that undocumented      Migrante-International after sponsoring a series     of
workers could not join protest actions, for example,      yearly international consultations and conferences   to
against immigration policies.                             gather the pre-existing and budding organizations    of
                                                          migrant workers.
In a display of bold and creative tactics, the local
                                                          There were two major conditions that hastened the
union members are the ones in the front line of the
                                                          formation of this alliance. One was an assessment that
marches and clearly protecting the undocumented
                                                          determined that there were already organizations of
members of the MTU as they raise their demands. It is
                                                          migrant workers in major countries of destination. The
important for these undocumented workers to be
                                                          other was the 1995 Flor Contemplacion campaign that
present and experience the mass action to embolden
                                                          brought new profile to the issues and agenda of
them in fighting for their rights. The same thing
                                                          migrant workers at the national and international
happens when negotiating with the management of the
                                                          level. The objective conditions and the readiness of
factory over unfair labor practice.
                                                          the migrant workers to come together and create their
                                                          own alliance brought about the birth of Migrante
Of course, there are issues that are beyond the
                                                          International in 1996.
“mandate” of MTU as a union. Policies and issues
emanating from the respective governments of              Now, Migrante International, aside from being an
sending countries must rightfully be addressed by the     alliance and a campaign center, further developed its
organizations of the respective nationals. This is the    tasks by establishing Migrante Chapters in the
reason why, for example, Filipino migrants have their     Philippines among the families of migrants, returned
own alliance – KASAMMAKO. It is the campaign              migrants, would-be migrants and advocates. Now, it
centre among Filipino migrants. KASAMMAKO                 has its own mass base in the Philippines and not only
complements and supports the MTU and vice versa. It       outside of the country.
is essential for each nationality to have their own
organizations to address their respective issues as a     The Cooperation between             Institutions   and
national community because of the particularity of the    Migrants Organizations
                                                          If you will notice, church-based institutions such as
This is also in line with our belief that the             APMM, MFMW and Bethune House in Hong Kong
phenomenon of forced migration can be resolved            played their part in assisting migrant workers in
principally within the existing conditions of the home    forming their organizations and alliances.
country that breed massive forced migration. Added to     These institutions gave the necessary education and
this, the strength of any international alliance is       training, assisted the migrants on how to draft the
dependent on the strength of the national                 pertinent documents needed, and helped them find the
organizations of migrant workers themselves.              needed logistical and financial support.
That is why Filipino migrant workers, aside from          Though migrant workers are surely the decisive ones
being members of the migrant union, have their own        in this effort, many institutions paved the way and
organizations and their own alliance.                     hastened the realization of these objectives by creating
                                                          a favorable atmosphere for organizing.
Case Study 3 – The Migrante International

Migrante International is the Global Alliance of
progressive Filipino migrants’ organizations in more

                                                         Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering      41
Some lessons to share                                         products. They do it through unceasing plunder,
                                                              militarism and war.
First and foremost, international alliance building is a
process dictated out of the necessity felt by migrant         Forced massive migration will always be a by-product
workers themselves. Usually, the migrant workers will         of this unequal arrangement. Exploitation and
pass through a process wherein their own practical            oppression of marginalized peoples is surely a
experience teaches them to connect and combine                permanent feature of this phenomenon of imperialist
themselves - first as a single organization and later,        globalization.
after some practical cooperative relations with other
organizations, as an alliance.                                Resistance and defense is necessary. The only way of
                                                              assuring the protection of their rights and the
If they voluntarily organize themselves, the                  promotion of their welfare is first of all, for the
organizations will be sustained and will become               migrants to get organized.
strong. Sometimes, because of our strong eagerness
to empower them, we go ahead of their readiness to            Our sharing today, I strongly hope, can be a vital input
get organized. Usually, these organizations will not          towards the realization of these objectives.
last long. If the external motivator is no longer in their
midst, the organizations go astray and eventually die a       Get Organized! Build Alliances! Hasten the
natural death.                                                realization of a strong international migrants’
Though the desire of migrants to organize themselves
is there, continuing education is needed to make them         Thank you and good day.
more conscious and aware of their rights, the                 ___________________________________________
complexities of running an organization and
maintaining alliances, the importance of solidarity
                                                              VIII. Other resources
relations and the study of current issues to keep them        Canada – Foreign Worker Programs
abreast of changing conditions. Systematic education
will sustain not only their desire, but will raise their      fwp.shtml&hs=on0
level of consciousness, which is essential in sustaining
                                                              International Labour Organization – Migration Statistics
the motivation to further strengthen their          
organizations.                                                ilmdb.htm

There are well-defined roles and places for institutions      International Labour Organization – Social Protection –
                                                              Migrant Workers
and migrants in the whole process of building       
organizations and alliances. The former creates               cprot/migrant/
favorable conditions for advocacy and support, while
the latter plays the decisive role.                           International Organization for Migration
Time-tested organizational principles in alliance work        Justicia for Migrant Workers
must always be followed. We strive to achieve       
conscious unity arrived at by consensus, respecting           KAIROS.
the integrity and equality of each member                     Kalaayan Centre.
organization by respecting the independence and
initiative of each one, by not forcing the minority           Migration Policy Institute.
opposing views to submit to the majority view but             North American Agreement on Labour Cooperation –
also the minority respecting the majority view.               Migrant Rights
Our conference today is, I believe, a timely and an           OCASI.
important one. Poor countries are becoming poorer.            STATUS Campaign.
Super-rich countries can sustain their status now only
by controlling the source of raw materials and cheap          United Food and Commercial Workers Canada.
labor, as well as controlling potential markets for their

                                                             Final Report: National Migrant Justice Gathering         42

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