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Saturday , 2 July 2022

Filipino migrant workers getting the ire of Australian union

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by Marie Rea
BS Dev Com UPLB’81

A few months ago, there was an article in “The Australian” newspaper about some 70 Filipino workers in an iron ore project in the Pilbara being retained after sacking 54 of its Australian workers.

Naturally, there was an expected backlash against those “foreign workers.”

Commercial Drivers Union Strike- Cu...
Commercial Drivers Union Strike- Current situation at Ablekuma

Together with our native “kababayans”, the Adelaide based $5.2 billion Chinese-owned Ottoway Engineering have been the subject of intense ire by Australian workers, with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union questioning why migrant workers are given priority over the local workers.

On a similar note, there have been weeks of intrigues and friction in the country as some workers at Woodside’s Pluto gas project have been fired for walking off their jobs in February complaining about appalling living conditions.But then there were migrant workers, mainly Filipinos who were not sacked.

There have been lots of questioning re the skills of those Filipinos who have been retained!

Of a total of 180 employees, The Australian further reported that “Ottoway Engineering had about 50 to 70 FIlipinos working as welders and boilermakers, holders of 457 working visas.”

Some of them allegedly have now achieved permanent residency since they have been in Australia for quite a number of years.

The above story perhaps can be replicated quite a number of times as there’s increasing eveidence and perception of the Filipino workers’ great work ethics and efficiency that they are being favoured positively by employers over their local counterparts.

Can we blame them? Maybe not!

Others might argue that perhaps these workers are paid lower rates and/or not as agressive as their local “comrades” and hence, willing to work even on any conditions!

To be fair to our fellow brothers who are here working with their blood, sweat and tears, I am sure they are just doing their best to survive in a strange country and as always, as Filipinos everywhere are- they retain they natural traits of friendliness, politeness and the dignity of labour!

In the cruising industry alone worldwide, Filipinos continue to dominate the workforce. The health industry, particularly our nurses and doctors are serving millions of patients not just in the Middle East, United States and as far as Ireland in Europe. The latter, yours truly personally discovered from a couple of Irish tourists staying in the same hotel as ours in Venice, Italy. They said there are a nubmer of Filipino nurses in a nursing home where they live and they admire their good work habits and cheerful disposition. The 70 year old man said they were a warm welcome to their community near Northern Ireland.

Moreoever, this writer and her family have recently sailed on two cruises to Europe and toured there from April 16 to May 17, 2010. It had been apparent the great respect and admiration foreign employers have over our brothers and sisters abroad! Their hard work, pleasant attitude and positive work ethics seem to be the dominant traits endearing them to their employers.

So it is with great pride that we applaud and welcome the decision of those companies who continue to employ our beloved kababayans.

However,It is with fervent hope to that these employers strictly adhere to the government requirements of providing adequate working and living conditions to these Filipinos who in return are proving to the world and the Australian community in general that they deserve to be here!

After all we have that popular Australian phrase relating to work and fair play – that of giving everyone a “fair go!”

If everyone will work and do his job accordingly and efficiently, local or foreign, for sure their employers will recognise that! In turn, it is expected employers will do their fair share and follow a democratic system of management and employment over their workers.

That is the Aussie way, “fair dinkum,” mates!

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  1. Comparing the pay for a similar position the locals surely were paid higher than the immigrants.The ordinary Filipino worker in Australia prefers working doubletime,no complaints just to compensate that difference in pay .He is going to take that opportunity .The bottomline there that its just business for the employers,they can save more by retaining lower paid immigrant workers who can do the job .


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