David Jacks CUPE Communications 

Ferdie Gaite, the National President of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) spoke at two events in Winnipeg about the struggles and challenges of the labour movement in the Philippines.

Gaite spoke to members of CUPE 1973 (Concordia Hospital) and 1063 (WCB) as well as at a public event about the differences and similarities of the struggles in the Filipino and Canadian Labour movements. CUPE Manitoba partnered with Migrante, a migrant worker advocacy organization, to host the public event. “We were honoured to have one of the Philippines’ most active labour organizers speak to us in Winnipeg”, said Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba. “We are committed to helping defend labour rights of workers in the Philippines in the same way we are committed to defending labour rights in Canada.”

COURAGE is the largest labour confederation in the Philippines. With over 275,000 members it is at the forefront of public sector workers’ struggle for decent wages, humane working conditions and full union rights. Gaite’s visit to Winnipeg was part of a pan-Canadian tour that included his participation at CUPE National Convention in Quebec City. Gaite travelled to Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver speaking with CUPE members and the migrant Filipino community.

The Philippines is the third largest source country of migrants coming to Canada. Many migrants are here under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), a highly exploitive labour program that denies workers their basic rights of freedom of mobility and association. The program leaves workers vulnerable to exploitation by denying them access to permanent residence status. By the end of 2012, there were 338,189 temporary foreign workers in Canada.