Filipino Nurses migration: an example for sex workers ?

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Subject: Filipino Nurses migration: an example for sex workers ?
From: Tanya Foundation (
Date: Tue Jan 12 1999 - 12:05:22 EST

Dear All,

I am presently in the UK where I have recently bought a copy of the local
paper for the area in which I am staying.

The headline reads “Filipino nurses bring Eastern Promise of easing hospital
’s woes”. The story is an account of how a local National Health trust has
recently recruited 47 Filipino nurses on two year work permits to work in
local hospitals in south-west London. The nurses will be required to repay
the cost of their flights to the UK, back to the Health trust.

Several UK Health trusts are recruiting nurses from the Philippines, and at
least one Trade Union that represents health workers has voiced concerns
that the UK is drawing vitally needed trained nurses away from a developing
country. Furthermore it has suggested that the UK does not really have a
shortage of nurses, but a shortage of nurses willing to accept the existing
pay and conditions that exist in the Health service.

Filipino nurses are therefore being recruited to work for pay and conditions
that many UK nurses consider unacceptable.

However the Filipino nurses have two year work permits, and although these
permits allow them only to work as nurses they do have the right to belong
to a trade union and to the full protection of UK labour law.

It is most unlikely that these workers will be subjected to any serious
abuse or exploitation in the UK. There might be debate about such an
immigration policy and if it is exploitative of developing countries' human
resources. There might be possibilities for recruitment agents in the
Philippines to exploit some candidates, the cost of repaying an expensive
air ticket could be intimidating for a new recruit wanting to leave
employment soon after arriving. However the process is apparently
transparent and offers its participants freedom from serious abuse.

If Filipino sex workers could have the same transparent process for
acquiring work permits for the UK, where employment possibilities also exist
for migrant sex workers, most trafficking abuse could be prevented. Access
to trade unions and labour law protection would also work to reduce abuse
and exploitation in the UK.

Well-informed, legally employed, socially included, unionised, sex workers
are far more difficult to exploit and abuse than illegal, fearful,
marginalised and stigmatised women. Reduce the vulnerability, the stigma,
and fear of criminalisation and you take the main tools of oppression away
from abusers. Enable sex workers to migrate transparently and legally for
sex work and you dismantle any need for exploitative agents.

Powerful, competent, organised workers are able fight abuse in any setting.
Powerful, competent, organised sex workers can do the same.

Best regards for 1999

John Davies

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