Covid-19 is spreading across the US. California and New York, which have large concentrations of Filipino works, are seeing an increase in Covid-19 cases. According to DOLE, there are now 6 overseas Filipino workers in the U.S. that have tested positive. There were 538 crew members and passengers from the virus-hit Grand Princess cruise ship who recently disembarked in Oakland, CA.
Migrante USA calls on Filipino workers in the U.S. to stay vigilant not just with respect to health and well-being but also their rights as workers, unionized or not, documented or undocumented.
1. Know the correct information and relevant information about Covid-19.
As the disease caused by Covid-19 rapidly spreads, it is important to know official warnings and advice from authorities especially from doctors and health professionals. Ensure that you consume verified information and don’t be deceived by “fake news”.
Pay attention to advisories and directions from the government (local, city or state) on proper washing of hands, social distancing, and other information and directions for precautions to safeguard health.
2. Join collective efforts to safeguard the health of yourself, your family and the community.
Migrante USA amplifies the call to safeguard health. Know the proper measures to avoid Covid-19 such as proper hand-washing, self-quarantine when symptoms occur, social distancing and other safety measures as prescribed by professionals and medical experts. Urgently see consultation with a doctor when symptoms arise (especially fever, cough and difficulty in breathing).
Take note that the most vulnerable are those 50 years old and above and those with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, compromised immune systems and hypertension.
Know the terms and conditions of your medical insurance. If you don’t have any, learn how you can get free or affordable Covid-19 testing in your city. Do not ignore perceived symptoms.
Feel free to contact a Migrante USA member organization nearest you to get information on how to get medical attention or for referrals to non-profit organizations who may be able to help with medical insurance matters.
3. Know and fight for workers’ rights!
Majority of Filipinos in the US are workers and comprise a large workforce in the service industry. Although there are professionals that are able to “work from home” a vast majority of workers do not have this option. Many Filipinos’ livelihood are affected by cases of “lock down” or the call to “quarantine” where they may not leave their house to go to work.
Make sure that you know the terms and conditions of your sick leave and other matters regarding taking leave from work in case you are unable to work due to Covid-19.
If you have any questions regarding workers’ rights, feel free to contact a Migrante USA member organization nearest you for referrals to labor attorneys.
4. Stand for the rights of Filipino People!
Migrante USA unites with the call of progressive organizations in the Philippines to implement the following: Free and widespread testing for COVID-19, proactive and free health services, additional deployment of health workers, protection for workers and the poor, and provision of supplies or resources. Fight against anti-people lockdown and fight the budget cut in public services!!
Migrante USA also unites with the call of Migrante International for embassies and consulates to be active in offering health services for migrants (acquiring testing kits and distributing supplies) and to ensure compensation and support for affected migrants.
5. Stand up against discrimination and racism.
Because COVID-19 originated in China, this does not mean we should blame Chinese people. Many Filipinos in different countries are vicitims of harassment blaming provinces and discrimination against Asians including Filipinos.
6. Unite with workers across the world
In the midst of this crisis caused by COVID-19, poverty and other social problems become more prominent and it is workers who are the most impacted. Many workers are unable to engage in social distancing or working from home because of their work conditions in manufacturing and service industry jobs that require them to interact with people. They also have no way to move through the city without using often crowded mass transportation. Most of all, because of depressed wages, lack of job security, and rollback in benefits, workers have nothing to eat and feed their families if they do not go to work. Because of the intense privatization of healthcare, it is hard for workers to access health services.
Capitalists have been laying off workers left and right and cutting hours without compensation to avoid hurting their profits. This can be seen in mass lay-offs such as in Philippine Airlines (300 workers laid off). Many contracted Migrant Filipinos have had their contracts cancelled without compensation for themselves or their families.
Many overseas Filipino workers are gravely affected by COVID-19 (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Italy, etc.). We need to unite, cooperate, and exchange accurate information on how to ensure the rights and well-being of migrant workers or OFWs. There is no one to help Filipino workers but Filipino workers themselves.
At a time of intensifying economic crisis, now exacerbated by the grave human health threat posed by COVID-19, working class unity is essential to ensure stability to fight and struggle for the right to live, work with security and the right to health services.
Dare to struggle! Don’t be afraid!
Filipino Workers unite!
Long live the working class!
*Philippine Department of Labor and Employment