Filipinos in San Francisco Rally Against Modern Slavery
Protesters in front of Philippines Consulate denounce treatment of Filipino workers in the US
DYAN RUIZ, JOURNALIST: This week, a crowd of protesters gathered outside the Philippine consulate in San Francisco to demand action on the debts, human trafficking, and abuse of Filipino migrant workers [incompr.] oil rig near New Orleans.
MARA IBARRA, SECRETARY GENERAL, NAT’L ALLIANCE FOR FILIPINO CONCERNS: I’m here in solidarity for the JS workers in New Orleans. We wanted to make sure that we continue to educate and mobilize our community so that we can stop and put an end to all these injustices.
RUIZ: Last November, three employees died in an explosion on a rig owned by Black Elk Energy and staffed by Grand Isle Shipyard.
NBC NIGHTLY NEWS PRESENTER: Searchers in the Gulf of Mexico say they found the body of one of the two people missing after an oil platform explosion on Friday. Crews continue to search for the other missing worker.
WWLTV PRESENTER: The company at the center of the Eyewitness investigations into human trafficking has denied the allegations. But as Brendan McCarthy reports, new developments now support the claims made by dozens of Filipino guest workers.
RUIZ: The workers were recruited from the Philippines and forced to work excessive hours with no overtime and little pay. The U.S. government has granted visas to some of the men, recognizing them as victims of human trafficking. A national movement to bring awareness and accountability to the oil rig owners and operators is gaining momentum.
KAY UCAJUNCO, ANAKBAYAN EAST BAY: We support the leadership of the Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino workers in demanding their rights and exposing these harsh realities of modern-day slavery. We’ve learned that many Filipino caregivers and domestic workers have endured similar exploitative treatment from their employers.
ANGELICA CABANDE, REGIONAL COORDINATOR, NAT’L ALLIANCE FOR FILIPINO CONCERNS: Today is just one of the starting steps that we’re going to be here to tell them that they really need to protect the workers regardless of their status and regardless if they are from the Philippines or here in the U.S.
IBARRA: The Philippine government really need to create jobs that is decent and livable so that no one will be forced to leave the Philippines.
RUIZ: This week at the San Francisco rally, protesters representing over 20 Filipino-American organizations tried to meet with the Philippine consul-general. He was not available.
JACK STEPHENS, EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT OFFICER, SF COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE PHILIPPINES: The message we wanted to deliver was to let them know our dissatisfaction with how the Philippine consulate and the Philippine embassy has been handling these issues.
RUIZ: Filipino migrant workers have joined a class action lawsuit against Grand Isle Shipyard. More protests around America are planned.
This is Dyan Ruiz for The Real News Network.
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