Statement on International Migrants Day by Asia Migrants Coordinating Body
Further advance the migrants’ struggle for rights and dignity
Struggle against forced migration and labour export
The celebration of International Migrants Day on December 18 marks the victory of migrants in fighting for human rights and dignity. It was the strength of the migrants movement that propelled the United Nations to adopt the International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families on December 18, 1990 that from then on should have been the international barometer to measure the adherence of countries to internationally-accepted human rights standards for policies on migrants.
At the rate that Hong Kong – like many other labour-receiving countries, and in similar fashion, the labour-sending countries – is going, its treatment of migrants is seriously wanting based on what the convention dictates.
We, migrant workers, have never let up in our struggle against social exclusion and discrimination of migrants that have remained rampant in Hong Kong.
We consistently called for the abolition of the New Conditions of Stay (NCS) or two-week rule that discriminates foreign domestic workers (FDWs), limits the opportunities of FDWs to fight for their rights and seek a better employer, and exposes FDWs to abusive condition still is in place. Despite the recommendation even by the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination of Women (CEDAW) to review the NCS, the Hong Kong government has remained deaf to such clamor.
We fought hard to increase the wage of FDWs to HK $4,500 but the Hong Kong government maintains the FDWs exclusion from the statutory minimum wage and granted us a measly increase of HK $90 per month this year.
In the face of widespread abuses against migrants as documented by groups such as the Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW) and as shown by celebrated cases such as that of Kartika, migrant workers and advocates also heightened the call for mandatory live-in employment an option for FDWs and employers.
移工服務使團的資料記錄，及如 Kartika 般廣為人知的個案，清楚顯視出，移工面對的侵犯十分普遍。就此情況，移工及移工權利倡議者們，均強烈呼籲修改規定外藉家務工必須於僱主家中留宿的僱傭條件成為可由外藉家務工及僱主協商共識的可選擇條款。
We also did not let governments of sending countries off the hook when it comes to exploiting migrants.
The intensification of the labour export program and chronic lack of decent job opportunities remain as the basic concerns of migrants that commodify and force us into modern slavery-like conditions.
We fought incessantly against government neglect and state exaction, and collectively exposed and opposed the lack of government support and services mechanisms to protect our rights and welfare.
But not only are the governments neglectful, they have also been conniving with private recruitment agencies to extract monstrous fees from migrants especially those coming from Indonesia and the Philippines. Indonesian migrant workers end up receiving nothing within seven months of working because they need to pay the recruitment agencies as allowed by their government while Filipino domestic workers are deceived to pay huge amount of placement fees despite ‘no placement fees’ rule.
The violations of the rights of migrants, the abuses and exploitation are very much present and are set to perpetuate for as long as long as the neoliberal globalization-prescribed policies, including the commodification of migrant labor remains.
The results of the recently concluded 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) do not bode well for migrants and people for they carry an even more aggressive prescription of liberalization, deregulation and privatization. The condition of severe underdevelopment of many countries and widening inequities the world over will mean that migrants will remain to be commodities for sale to supply the needs for cheap and docile labor for many, mostly developed, countries.
Though they try to deodorize forced migration and labour export through the mantra of migration for development by the UN High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development and the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), they fail in addressing the exploitative and abusive situation of migrants, much less the basic socio-economic and political condition that breeds forced migration.
All of these signify that there are more to be done to further advance the migrants’ struggle for migrant rights and dignity as workers and as human beings.
In commemorating the International Migrants Day (IMD 2013) the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body (AMCB) joins with different migrant organizations in Hong Kong and of the Asia Pacific region and of the world in advancing migrant’s rights and dignity.
We continue our call to address the root causes of poverty, landlessness and unemployment that force millions of migrants to work abroad and leave their families behind. Our demands for the comprehensive rights of migrants remain.
With our movement and our solidarity, we shall continue to advance our struggles.
Asia Migrants Coordinating Body
15 December 2013