[Blueboard] Lecture Discussion on The Labor Brokering State...

Dhea dhea at admu.edu.ph
Mon Aug 27 14:41:52 PHT 2001

The Institute of Philippine Culture
cordially invites you to a lecture-discussion on

The Labor Brokering State: The Production and Export of Filipino/a Migrant

Ms. Robyn Rodriguez
Visiting Research Associate

31 August, Friday, 10:30 a.m.
IPC Training Room, Social Development Complex
Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City

On 14 May 2001, some 700 Filipino workers in garments and textile factories
in Brunei went on strike, protesting their low wages, poor working
conditions, and discrimination. Almost a week later, the Vice President of
the Philippines went to Brunei and, along with the Philippine Embassy,
mediated among the workers, employers, and the Brunei government. The
ultimate resolution of the labor dispute, on the part of the Philippine
government, was to facilitate the repatriation of Filipinos wishing to
return home to the Philippines. Over 200 workers were repatriated back to
the Philippines.
Even while the Philippine government helped facilitate the workers' return
to the Philippines, it warned them that they would be threatening their
ability to work overseas in the future as they would be placed on a
"watchlist" of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration for
"violat[ing] certain provisions in their contracts" (The Philippine Daily
Inquirer, 23 May 2001).  Indeed, back home in the Philippines, the workers
struggle to maneuver through a labyrinth of government offices as they
attempt to make claims against their employers in Brunei and their
recruitment agencies. The very system that is supposed to guarantee their
rights as the nation's "bagong bayani" appears to be working against them.

The paper on which the lecture-discussion is based examines this recent
labor struggle as a case study for understanding the emergence of what the
author calls, a "labor-brokering state" in the Philippines. With the demand
for mobile and flexible labor in the present global economy, the
labor-sending state has taken on the  role of "labor broker," negotiating
particular kinds of relations with labor-importing states and global capital
to provide for their labor needs. While the labor-sending state benefits
from the remittances generated by overseas employment and the decreased
pressure on the local labor market, and foreign states and employers benefit
from cheap, imported labor, it is not clear how workers ultimately benefit.
The author argues that not only are the workers exploited by their foreign
employers and their host states; as it appears, the Philippine state as a
"broker of labor" plays a critical role in bargaining away the rights of its

Ms. Robyn Rodriguez is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Anthropology,
University of California at Berkeley. Her study is on "Domesticating
Workers: The State and the Production of Migrant Labor in the Philippines."
She is affiliated with the Institute of Philippine Culture under the
Visiting Research Associate (VRA) Program for the period 1 June 2000-30
September 2001.

For inquiries, please call 426-6067/68; 426-6001 loc. 4651/4653 (Cecille).

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