1개의 게시물을 찾았습니다.
- 이주노조(MTU) 위원장...
Last Saturday's Hankyoreh published the following article:
Migrant labor organizer bids bittersweet farewell to Korea
Family duties bring MTU’s Michel Catuira home after six year struggle in Korea
On January 31, 40-year-old Seoul-Gyeonggi-Incheon Migrants' Trade Union (MTU) president Michel Catuira will leave Korea after six years in the country and return to the Philippines. Just as he came to Korea to help his family, he is returning to the Philippines because of his family.
“Anyone has to go back when the time comes, but it's a pity to be going back when I haven't achieved much in particular here,” said Michel with a smile, when meeting with a Hankyoreh reporter on Thursday at the union's office in Nokbeon neighborhood, Eunpyeong District, Seoul. He has decided to return home to look after his grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. The cousin that has looked after her until now is going to work in the United States, leaving nobody else to care for her.
Michel, who was forced by poverty to sell rice cakes on the street from the age of 13 and came to Korea after spending his 20s haunted by low wages and unemployment, acquired various titles while living in Korea as a “migrant worker.” In 2009, he became a chairman of the union, and the following year became the first ever foreign delegate in the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). “I didn't know about the labor movement in the Philippines, but I couldn't stand the unjustified abuse and unreasonable treatment in Korea,” he said. In 2007, Michel learned about the MTU while protesting against the unfair firing of a friend. After becoming chairman, he spent his days working in factories and his nights organizing workers. “A union where workers can discuss [issues] and make decisions themselves is absolutely necessary for the sake of migrant workers' rights,” he said.
Until now, the Korean government has not regarded the MTU's activities with pleasure. Three of its past chairpeople have been the objects of “target crackdowns” by immigration authorities and forcibly deported. Michel, whose residency status in Korea was legal, was not exiled following a crackdown, but once found himself in danger of being forcibly expelled. In February last year, Seoul Immigration Office cancelled his application for an extension of stay and ordered him to leave the country. In September, however, a judge at Seoul Administrative Court took Michel's side, saying, “I suspect that Seoul Immigration Office's handling of the case may have been because of the plaintiff's labor union activity.”
The Korean government is not a signatory to the UN's International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, which stipulates the right of migrant workers and their families to be free from discrimination compared to citizens of the country where they work, and includes the right to form labor unions. Michel spoke sarcastically about this, saying, “As a member of the UN, Korea is only interested in benefits to itself. It doesn't fulfill its obligations.”
“Meeting people I admire, like Kim Jin-suk, Direction Committee member of the Busan branch of the KCTU, and Yu Myeong-ja of Eduwork, while working and engaging in labor activism in Korea, has been a really worthwhile experience,” said Michel. His affection for the Korean labor movement is such that he named his pet rabbit Chun Tae-il, the late South Korean labor activist . He plans to create a network of Filipino workers that have returned from Korea and international alliances between the KCTU and Filipino unions while looking after his grandmother.
Michel's last official engagement will be his farewell party on January 28(*), before leaving the Korea that he “loves and hates” on January 31.
* Michel's "farewell party" will start next Saturday at 8pm, in the office of MTU(KCTU Seoul Regional Council) near Bulgwang Stn(subway line no. 3/6)... For more info, please check out MTU's facebook site!!