"Migrant Workers Challenging Global Structures", Seoul, South Korea Conference Statement. 9 September, 1996.
We are 105 delegates coming from 16 countries in Asia, America and Europe, representing various migrant workers' organisations, migrant support groups, trade unions, women's groups, human rights organisations and religious bodies. We have come together on 28 August to 1 September 1996 in Seoul, Korea for the international migrants workshop, with the theme "Migrant Workers Challenging Global Structures."
We recognize that in Asia alone, there are an estimated 15 million migrant workers (documented and undocumented.) Women migrant workers constitute an increasing percentage of this. Economic, political, socio-cultural and religious marginalisation characterise the plight of migrant workers.
World domination and control by advanced capitalist interests through structural adjustment, liberalisation and deregulation programmes of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organisation, abetted by the collusion of governments, have resulted in poverty, unemployment and underemployment, unequal distribution of wealth within and among nations, collapse of agriculture, and the absence of peace and security in countries within the region.
Advocates of globalisation argue that it hastens the transfer of skills and technology and enhances productivity and efficiency. The reality is, globalisation of economies reinforces the control of advanced capitalists interests on the less developed countries, leading to the continued marginalisation, if not disintegration, of economic and socio-cultural systems in many countries in the South.
Globalisation requires the removal of trade and investment barriers to facilitate the movement of capital, investments, goods and labour across national borders. At the same time, advanced capitalist countries like the US and Japan adopt protectionist policies.
We are gravely concerned that globalisation is leading to profit-driven economies that thrive on cheap and docile labour, especially of women, and societies that stress consumerism and competition. In turn, these have resulted in the erosion of human values, commodification of people (especially migrant workers), disintegration of societies, families and communities, racism, xenophobia, unsustainable lifestyles, and the degradation of the environment.
Demand for cheap labour has led to subcontracting mechanisms, adoption of "trainee" schemes and increasing feminisation of migrant labour. This translates into absence of accountability of companies especially transnational corporations (TNCs), unjust wage structures, absence of economic and social security, and violence against women and migrants. The migrant workers, uprooted from their families and communities, have to work under hostile, abusive and exploitative situations, and are generally denied their right to organise and unionise.
We recognise the fact that migrant workers boost and contribute to the economic growth of receiving countries, and through their remittances, help prevent the collapse of some debt-ridden countries.
We reaffirm our position that migrant workers, whether documented or undocumented, have rights as workers and as human beings as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, and other international conventions.
Initiatives have been taken by migrants and support groups in both sending and receiving countries in the areas of assistance to migrants, advocacy, lobbying, campaigning, networking, documentation/information and research.
The challenge to migrant workers, support groups and the people is great. Globalisation gives rise to increasingly complex processes and situations. The relentless drive of the capitalists to pursue globalisation, and the governments' abdication of their responsibility to the people, make our tasks even greater. We boldly face this challenge.
We commit ourselves to:
On September 1, 1996, delegates of migrant workers group across the globe unanimously approved the Seoul Statement uriging migrant workers to challenge global structures of repression. More than three after the Korea event, migrant workers are still sufferring.
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