International Workers’ Day National Statement
Congress of Progressive Filipino Canadians
May 3, 2013
The Congress of Progressive Filipino Canadians (CPFC) commemorates International Workers’ Day with renewed vigor and militancy as this past May 1st signified both the historic and deepening need to uphold and advance the struggles of the working class all over the globe. As a day representing the 127th anniversary of the Haymarket Square demonstration in Chicago on May 4th, 1886—which yielded the 8-hour workday standard, the abolition of child labour and safer working conditions—International Workers’ Day also serves as a reminder of the roles workers today must take on in carrying forward the legacy of resistance amidst the intensifying and ruthless assaults of the neoliberal agenda of globalization on the lives of millions of working class people.
Instigated by the clout of corporate greed and its ever-growing appetite for profit, neoliberal mechanisms make labour contractual, flexible and disposable, pushing workers’ exploitation and oppression to ever more sophisticated, drastic and much deadlier forms than ever before. It is in this regard that the CPFC calls on all workers to strengthen their resolve in continuing to build and to bolster the genuine international solidarity that is necessary in challenging the aggressions of neoliberal globalization against the global working class.
As part of a larger transnational community, Filipino Canadians share a common history with more than ten million Filipino workers toiling in 150 countries through such labour migration programs as the Philippine government’s Labour Export Policy (LEP), and Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and its Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP). The forced migration and displacement of workers from countries such as the Philippines to advanced capitalist countries have been a longstanding phenomenon facilitated by governments and corporations to supply and to maintain the increasing demand for cheap and disposable labour. Through this global process, pressure is exerted on wages, benefits and workplace standards towards decline, thus affecting local workers and workers from abroad alike. At present, Filipino workers constitute the largest number of migrant and immigrant workers in Canada. In this global context, the CPFC stands firm in holding the struggles of workers in and from the Global South at the fore of the working class struggle, as people of colour endure the heaviest blows of neoliberalism.
Canada has recently come to hold one of the world’s most unrestricted labour markets through the implementation of neoliberal policies, such as the expansion of the TFWP, which has created a safe haven for businesses and corporations. In stark contrast, workers from poor, developing countries primarily enter Canada through labour migration pathways that are highly constrained and heavily relegated as temporary and thus without permanent status, nor full rights and open mobility. Hugely pertinent in the experiences of the Filipino Canadian community, these greatly hamper the genuine settlement and successful integration of workers who come to Canada under such terms.
Meanwhile, Canadian businesses and corporations hold unimpeded mobility in outsourcing jobs and setting up business ventures anywhere in the world. Canadian mining company Barrick Gold Corp., for example, currently has the largest and the most environmentally-devastating mining and excavation projects. These projects have caused the social and cultural erosion of entire peoples in the Philippines, the Americas, Africa and Australia. Barrick Gold Corp. continues to inflict violence, suffering and death across continents and makes mega profits doing so, fulfilling the demand for gold, mainly in the jewelry industry and for gold reserves for major banks.
Additionally, this April 24th, 2013, in a tragic and deadly turn of events, a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, housing over 3000 workers, collapsed and instantly killed hundreds, injured approximately 1000, and left an estimated 900 missing and still buried underneath the rubble. Among the garment factory’s western clientele is Canadian company Loblaws’s Joe Fresh. The garment workers, mostly young women, were being paid no more than $43 CAD per month—a very “competitive” and profitable rate for the western companies being supplied with textiles. Though cracks and dangerous signs of wear were apparent in the old building, supervisors neglected the very lives of the employees by ordering them to go back to work to meet quotas.
These are but a few illustrations that cite the ongoing and worsening impacts of “free-trade agreements” that at the very root thrive on expendable transnational labour in furthering corporate interests at a disastrous cost to human lives. With the severe claw-backs of austerity in a time of economic slump, working class communities are given no viable choice for affordable, fair and sustainable alternatives that counter the grossly exploitative and oppressive production of goods under global capitalism.
We members of the Congress of Progressive Filipino Canadians express our deepest condolences and sympathies to all those who have been affected by the tragedy in Bangladesh, especially to the families and friends of those who have perished. As neoliberalism continues to degrade and threaten the lives of millions of people all over the world, the CPFC continues to stand in solidarity with workers in Canada and overseas, and denounces the misuse of government authority to sanction the exploitation and oppression of working people by complying with corporate interests and greed. In the spirit of resistance and the need for societal transformation towards a better future, the CPFC will continue to embrace, advance and uphold the working class struggle in opposing and exposing the neoliberal agenda of globalization.
Workers of the world unite!
Expose and oppose neoliberalism!
Stop the global contractualization, privatization, and flexibilization of labour!
Permanent settlement through genuine immigration!
Long live international solidarity!
Organizations under the CPFC:
National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada
SIKLAB Canada (Sulong Itaguyod Karapatan ng Manggagawang Pilipino sa Labas ng Bansa/Advance and Uphold the Struggles of Filipino Canadian Workers)
UKPC/FCYA—National (Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada/Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance—National)
Philippines-Canada Task Force on Human Rights