No to modern-day slavery!Support the Filipino migrant workers’ class action against Grand Isle Shipyard
Statement of Support and Solidarity to the Former Migrant Workers against the Grand Isle Shipyard
January 3, 2012
The International Migrants’ Alliance (IMA), a global alliance of more than 100 grassroots migrant organizations and their support groups, stands in strong solidarity with the Filipino migrant workers who are now filing a class suit against the companies Grand Isle Shipyard, Black Elk Energy and DNR Offshore Crewing Services.
The Grand Isle Shipyard Company, a US-based company situated in Louisiana, hired and supplied Filipino migrant workers to oil companies in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly Black Elk Energy. The company apparently employed the said workers through DNR Offshore Crewing Services.
Ever since their employment started with the said companies in 2005, the Filipino migrant workers have experienced a myriad of abuses and violations of their rights: they were refused days off, made to work 12-14 hours a day without overtime pay, made to pay illegal fees, refused visitations from families and even talking with American co-workers, threatened with deportation if they complain, etc.
The Black Elk explosion on November 16, 2012 had all three Filipino migrant workers killed and three others severely injured.
Prior to this, many cases of abuse, neglect and violation have been documented. One worker experienced temporary blindness and even while going through treatment, was still required to work. Another experienced serious burns inside a tank but was not given medical treatment. Instead, he was hidden in one’s home while recuperating.
From the 17 Filipino workers who escaped GIS and filed a class action for violation of labor laws, trafficking, slavery, discrimination and fraud, more than 70 Filipino migrant workers have joined the class action lawsuit. Filipino migrant workers who have been sent or deported back to the Philippines have also been encouraged to join in the class action.
Up to 500 Filipino skilled workers are potentially affected by this case. There is blatant slavery, racism, and discrimination against the Filipino workers, aside from being trafficked. While American workers enjoy the civil liberties like any other worker in the US – they can get a driver’s license, drive a car, enjoy their day off, go out and enjoy their free time, the Filipino workers are guarded 24 hours a day, surveillance cameras are set up outside their bunkhouse so they cannot leave, they are asked to leave their room if an American worker decides he wants to sleep in that room. They are charged US$1000-US$3000 a month per person for rent of that bunkbed which is like a coffin because you cannot sit up and need to slide in in order to lay down.
The said migrants are also scoring the Philippine Ambassador in the USA for denying knowledge about the lawsuit. According to the migrants, they have asked him for a dialogue which he inadvertently refused. In a media interview as well, right after the explosion in Black Elk, he declared that all is fine and they are “looking forward to bringing in more workers”.
A civil case is now pending at the Louisiana Federal Court.
These violations committed by the companies against the migrant workers are unconscionable. These companies perpetuate modern-day slavery and allow the discrimination and dehumanization of migrant workers all for the sake of profit. There is definitely complete disregard for life, rights and dignity of workers.
We will fully support the campaign that the migrant workers will launch against the GIS and its cohorts. We join in the international call to all former workers of the GIS in joining the class action against the aforementioned companies. In addition, we demand the Philippine government to immediately look into this case, probe into the apparent neglect from the Philippine Embassy in the US and assist the migrant workers in all aspects of their legal case.
It is with collective unity and struggle can we win against erring, abusive and exploitative companies.
Justice for the Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino workers!
Stop human trafficking!
Oppose and stop slavery of Filipino workers!
Uphold the rights, lives and dignity of migrant workers!
Long live international solidarity!