Mode 4 and the Labor Rights of Migrant Workers

Migrant workers should be protected by labor laws of the host countries and must not be included in TISA or any free trade agreement. They are employees, not independent service-suppliers.

  1. Introduction

Mode 4 provisions under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)[1], under the services chapters of free trade agreements[2], including the proposed Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)[3], typically involve the movement of natural persons such as investors, intra-corporate transferees (managers, specialists, technical persons) and highly technical personnel such as those with expertise law, accounting, taxation, management consulting, engineering, computer, advertising, research and development services, translation services, higher education, architecture, and research and development, and the like.

One easily infers from the above enumeration that either these natural persons are trying to look for investment opportunities, or are providing highly-specialized, time-bound services. In neither case is any of them considered an employee. Hence, those deployed under Mode 4 who provide services by way of a contract for service do not expect any protection under the labor laws of the host country, and their contracts are instead governed by default contract laws.

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Colleagues in the War on Want and comrades in the UK’s trade union movement

#noTTIP

War on Want were out on the streets on Saturday with the tens of thousands across Europe to say #noTTIP!

The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) or Center of United and Progressive Workers, a national labor center in the Philippines composed of workers in the private, public, informal and migrant sectors, conveys its steadfast support for your mass actions today demanding for the long overdue living wage of the vast majority of the working people in the United Kingdom.

In fact, this call is more than ever relevant throughout the world as neoliberalism further stretches its repugnant tentacles, wreaking havoc on us, the workers – busting our unions, stifling our rights, ruining our job security, depleting our benefits, force-feeding us with cheap, starvation wages.

Sentro is one with your march that aims to make the workers – and not merely the filthy rich and employers – to enjoy the supposed gains in your national economy; hence, higher salaries and added perks, stable employment, a really functioning national minimum wage law that protects workers from extremely low pays, curbing excessive profits and other predatory capitalist practices, end to “poverty wages,” among others.

Sentro and the Filipino workers could easily relate to your problems and your struggle – Philippine workers are actually one of the lowest paid among the so-called developing nations, a notoriety which remains despite the much ballyhooed economic “growth” of the country in the past four years. In particular, the minimum wage system here has routinely been violated; it has become the ceiling wage instead of the floor wage for most workers, consigning them to a ceaseless subsistence life. It is now even being adjusted to be pegged to poverty levels, thereby perpetuating pathetic wages for the working poor. This is amid the explicit provision in the Philippine Constitution declaring that workers are “entitled to security of tenure, humane conditions of work, and a living wage.”

Fighting for a genuine living wage should therefore be one of the primary and continuing advocacies of trade unionists and social activists in the UK and the Philippines – and elsewhere. In particular, opposing contractualization and cheap labor policies must go hand in hand as pursuing secure jobs and a living wage are both pressing issues and not incompatible.

Living wage, not poverty wage!
Reduce profits, increase workers’ wages and benefits!
Fight for a living wage and secure jobs!
Long live the labor movement!

SENTRO
Quezon City, Philippines

The Filipino Migrant community welcomes the commitment to restore the budget of Overseas Absentee Voting(OAV)

On the occasion of the 10th Asia-Europe Peoples Forum ”Towards a Just and inclusive Asia and Europe-Building States of Citizens for Citizens” in Milan, Italy 10-12 October 2014, Filipino migrant representatives from Europe and Asia, organized a special caucus to discuss the Filipino migrant agenda.

Absentee Voting (OAV) was particularly taken up and made a strong appeal to Congress to restore the OAV budget of 89.6 million Pesos. Besides the OAV agenda, participating organisations raised the Joint Police Operation of the Council of European Union “Mos Maiorum” (involving all Member States and Schengen Associated Countries (SAC) the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (FRONTEX)) in a massive roundup of migrants from 13th till 26th of October, 2014.

These same Filipino organisations have earlier expressed serious concern on the budget cut. The caucus also discussed and suggested amendments to improve the OAV law to ensure its effective implementation towards better enfranchisement.

Representative Walden Bello updated the Filipino Migrant community from Europe and Asia on legislative initiatives being taken up by the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, of which he is currently the Chair.

Representative Walden Bello informed officially the participants that Isidro Ungab, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, reassured the Filipino Migrant community that the budget of OAV will be restored. The caucus participants welcomed the favourable action to include the OAV budget in the amendments of the General Appropriations Bill.

The meeting ended with a resolve from different Filipino migrant organisations in Europe and Asia to actively participate in the education campaign for OAV to ensure the higher level of participation in the electoral exercise. This will require a joint effort of Migrant and initiative of communities, Philippine Embassies and Philippine Government.

List of participating organisations:

Edwin Bustillos – Alliance of Progressive Labour (APL) Sentro- Philippines
Rex Verona – Migrant Forum Asia and APL Sentro -Hongkong/Philippines
Rene Raya – Centre for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) -Philippines
Romeo Sangcap – Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW)-Italy
Sylvia Roxas – Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW)-Italy
Jille Belisario – Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW)-International Office
Charito Basa – Philipino Women’s Council – Italy
Nonoi Hacbang – Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations in Europe
Rosalie Castro – Babaylan- France

Sentro lauds Walden Bello’s ‘solidarity trip’ to Hong Kong

Photo by  Philip C. Tubeza

Hong Kong protesters, Rep Walden Bello (inset) – Photo Philip C. Tubeza

THE Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa described as “impulsive, one-sided and unenlightened” the criticisms hurled against Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello for his “solidarity trip” in Hong Kong last week at the height of huge prodemocracy protests in this rich Chinese enclave.

“It was a solidarity mission both for the pro-democracy protesters – by expressing his support to their noble aspiration as a steadfast social activist himself and considering that they are part of a broader, interdependent and global movement for justice and democracy – and for the thousands of overseas Filipino workers, mostly domestic workers – by checking with the Philippine consulate whether contingency plans for the OFWs are in place for any eventuality,” Frank Mero, chairperson of Sentro, said.

Mero added that “while we understand well the concerns for the safety and continued employment of the tens of thousands of OFWs in Hong Kong, we should not likewise be restrained by antiquated box mentality or parochialism: because as we need Hong Kong, it also needs us; and social advocacies have indeed no boundaries.”

“Universal justice and democracy – like the long envisioned genuine empowerment of the workers – will remain elusive and even ‘romantic,’ but only if we do not actively seek them,” Mero asserted.

Sentro has an affiliate in Hong Kong, the Progressive Labor Union of Domestic Workers (PLU-APL), which readily supported the protests and whose leaders accompanied Walden in the protest area. PLU-APL is affiliated to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU).

Nagkaisa labor coalition declares war against “King of labor-only-contracting Asiapro” in today’s World Day of Decent Work

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AROUND 200 members of labor coalition Nagkaisa picketed the Asiapro main office in Barangay Kapitolyo in Pasig City this morning to condemn the pseudo-manning agency for its gross violations of workers’ rights to mark the World Day of Decent Work observed worldwide today.

Below is the Nagkaisa labor coalition statement issued today:

“We, the Nagkaisa! (United!), join arms in condemning in highest and strongest terms the illegal practice being perpetrated by the Asiapro Multi-purpose Cooperative against thousands of vulnerable Filipino workers in its employ as we commemorate today the World Day of Decent Work along with other labor unions and progressive labor groups around the world.

We are enraged by Asiapro’s unfettered and multiple grave violations of international conventions on decent jobs and serious abuse of Philippine labor statutes that upholds the rights and interests of Filipino workers.

Behind its mask and by its pretense as a multi-purpose cooperative, Asiapro is a grand structure of deceit and an organized syndicate with a multi-billion peso profiteering from the blood and sweat of hapless Filipino workers.

The people running Asiapro are with pedigree, deeply-experienced and widely networked to camouflaged and further entrenched their labor-only-contracting fleecing operation. They are not just modern day labor slavery drivers, they are also rapacious and brutal not only for not giving the right wages and benefits for is workers but for skirting the laws and statutes by not paying millions of pesos of taxes that a responsible manning agency does to government.

As we join fellow workers in fighting for decent work, the Nagkaisa labor coalition today vows to make life difficult for Asiapro and promises to make its greedy high people running the organization be brought to justice.

In observance of the World Day of Decent Work, Nagkaisa today swears to uncover the Asiapro masterminds and make sure they will be made to account including all of the conspirators of the syndicate to pay for their abuse and injustice they have committed against thousands of its workers and their families.”

Mabuhay ang Nagkaisa!

Long live Nagkaisa!

Together, let us bring Asiapro to justice!