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Domestic Using Unions to Litigate

Japan With Kids - Forums: General Discussions: Domestic Using Unions to Litigate
By Admin on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 1:07 pm:

Dear everyone,
This discussion is interesting and of course we all are dying with curiosity how it turns out.
I have sad news. "_______" has asked me to remove it from the public eye. He is afraid of repercussions. I think this is unfortunate because of course it is a learning experience for everyone. But in this case, I think that I have to at least remove his two posts and references to his name in the other posts.
I heartily wish a satisfactory outcome for both of the dissatisfied parties.
This thread was started on [June 19 - 02:59 pm].

By Scott Hancock on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 4:24 pm:

Wow. What a valuable post for the many people who ask about sponsoring or employing helpers. Now, what to do you do...

Stricly speaking you were an employer, so I think you have ths same responsibilities as a company employer. And that does include some recently reinforced rights for pregnant women and new parents. So, my amateur take is that there is some technical grounds for the claims. (We just recently had to update our required company rules regarding this area.)

Afraid to say you should probably get a lawyer versed in the latest labor law. This person is really pulling out all the stops, so you need to meet it likewise.

Sounds like you do have a reasonable case. But, these things can have surprising twists. And be prepared to hear some bizarre combination of "rules" and "case by case interpretation". I wouldn't go to any meetings without representation, with that kind of full-force approach she's taking.

If you have an employer, keep an eye that any of these unions don't try to contact them. Might want to let them know or even ask advice from counsel there.

Whatever you do, don't let it be. Have to respond and answer somehow. Let us know how you handle it and what happens.

By Scott Hancock on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 03:30 pm:
One thing you should do to prepare is right now, collect every docuemnt or written communication related to this and write down your chronology in as much detail as you can. Wherever you have specific dates of when things were said, it's better.

I can't imagine having to answer all those groups. Sorry to say it's going to cost some money, unless you are prepared for a LOT of time and speak Japanese fluently.

By Anne Bergasse on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 5:18 pm:

I haven't had experience dealing with the Philippine unions but I did have experience with a union at a previous job.

This is what we did. First, we met with the union reps. They served us a formal notice about the complaints (this is all they are required to do and they will probably keep bothering you until they do that). We did our research, then met with the both employees and union reps to address all the complaints (no lawyers - although we did get advice). By the end of the meeting, the union left because there were no valid complaints. The whole process took only 2 meetings.

You don't really need a lawyer but if it makes you feel better and you have money to spend perhaps they will help you determine if you have to fight it in court (I would be surprised at this) or simply make an argument with the helper herself (a more likely case).

The important thing to remember is that this is essentially between you and your helper. She has recruited some support but they won't do much unless you've done something seriously wrong that you refuse to sort out and your helper needs to take you to court. If you have done something wrong unintentionally, and you are reasonable about it, shouldn't cost an arm and a leg to make amends.
I'll be interested to know the outcome of this as well.

By Scott Hancock on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 9:45 pm:

I agree that Anne's way is another way to go. I tend to be conservative on these things. As a company owner, I have seen unexpected or seemingly irrational rulings by agencies of authority.

I don't know if I would agree with such a definitive statement as "they won't do much unless...". There's always a first time.

By Cornelia on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 10:27 am:

[June 20 - 09:29 am]"________" wrote a second time and it was located here.

By Nancy on Monday, June 20, 2005 - 10:43 am:

Since I am not a lawyer, I can't say whether what you did was legally wrong. There are other countries where the law would prevent an employer from terminating an employee who is on leave, including maternity leave or leave for illness or work-related injury. What was the understanding when she became pregnant? Did she leave with the understanding that she would come back to her job and as such she still holds a valid work visa? If you think you need a lawyer, your home country's embassy or consulate should be able to provide you with a list of lawyers, possibly by specialty. You could also check with your ward to see if they offer advice to Foreign Residents on these matters. In the meantime, I would certainly try and resolve this, if you can, without a lawyer. It may be a question of how deep your pockets are. Good Luck!

By Marie Kawachi on Monday, June 20, 2005 - 11:02 am:

Dear "_______",
First of all, I am a Filipino and worked as a Nanny and Babysitter here in Japan for years. In my country, maids don't get any collective bargaining or labor coverage. Under the labor law you should have at least 10 to 12 employees under you or your company to be covered by labor unions. And in my country if you are a probationary worker for six months you don't get any benefits from the company only your basic salary per month.

And the 300,000 yen that you gave her is more than enough to cover a maternity leave/ vacation pay leave since you allowed her to go back home since she is pregnant. I don't know under the Japanese law on sponsoring a maid but in the Philippines Nanny, maids, house cleaners is not covered by our Labor Code.

For our Maternity Leave we are only entitled of one month salary or it depends on the employers discretion.

Please be careful not to give in if they want more money. And be with a lawyer when you have your meeting with them. Good bluck.

By Cornelia on Monday, June 20, 2005 - 1:56 pm:

Dear "_______",
If you want my 2 cents, which may not be worth much, my guess is that your opponent in this fracas is not upset about losing her job as much as she is upset about losing her visa. You wrote that you had sponsored her. Thus she was dependent on you for her visa. Finding a job is not so hard, but finding a visa sponsor is very hard. I'm guessing that the fight is all about her future projected income that she has now lost until or if she can ever get another sponsor for Japan. Unfortunately now that it has all escalated to a point where it can not easily be retrieved, it will be difficult to find a solution that could have bought her some time to find a new visa sponsor. She may seem unreasonable to you, but from her point of view she is fighting not only for her new baby but probably for some extended family that have all been dependent on her support from Japan. I think that if you wanted the whole thing to "disappear" overnight, finding someone willing to sponsor her for another Japan visa would probably do the job.

Of course, then the issue is, can you recommend her for sponsorship?

By Scott Hancock on Monday, June 20, 2005 - 2:52 pm:

Cornelia - Of course, you are right to see her point of view as a struggling Mom who supports many. But, it doesn't exactly follow that she would be so focused on her visa immediately because the visa remains valid until its original expiry date. It doesn't stop because her contract is terminated. If she were looking to continue her ability to earn income in Japan, it would have been a better long-term strategy to make the separation amicable and hopefully get the former employer to introduce or recommend her to others - for sponsorship or not. This is especially possible since it seems the termination was not for a performance issue. It's quite possible "_______" might have felt inclined to help. By her going for some imagined quick/big money, she establishes the adversarial relationship, and very much reduces her marketability for the long-term. Not to say people should endure unfair practices. It just doesn't sound like David was unreasonable.

By Tonette Binsol on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 8:08 am:

I am a concerned individual on human rights issues. Most of the victims preferred to keep silent about the abuse of power experienced and the case of this domestic worker is something different because she is seeking fair treatment of what had happened to her and she came out strong to express her right. Indeed, there are issues on exclusivity of labor laws in Japan. We are covered because we are categorized as "laborers in Japan" and because she is not covered, she has no right and thus, she will lose this case? Is this the way the interpretation should be?

Let's look at the totality of the picture as I don't see MONEY as the prime motive of this "saga" if you will call it a saga.

Something wrong had been done which violated a human right... that's the issue and the concern of this message. If we care about human rights, practice our right responsibly and have concern for others opposite our own struggles to earn a living in Japan, this shouldn't happen.

Tonette Binsol
OFW-TV - the only migrants' television network in the web accessed by more than 15,000 online Filipinos worldwide

By Scott Hancock on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 1:09 pm:

Tonette- Thank you for your post. Your point of view will be interesting to hear, and I respect it.

I am curious as to what human right you think was violated in this case, as far as we can tell from the facts described. I'm not seeing the violation.

The gentleman seemed to have a clear business arrangement/contract with the worker and terminated it within the terms. The relevance of her pregnancy/birth is not clear as far as the information in the posts goes.

Please let us know what you think the violation of human rights was.

By Jack Bayles on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 3:35 pm:

I agree with Scott. Interesting point by Tonette but not sure where the employer was violating her rights. This is not a place where the macro issue of workers right to migrate is being discussed. Look forward to hearing more.

By Tonette Binsol on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 11:17 pm:

Let's hear it from "_______", Scott and Jack.
Heide, were you once a Filipino? You're absolutely right! Philippines is the worst country for many. On the other hand, it is the best for many as well. I am very proud of this country wherever I am.

By Anne Bergasse on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 11:18 pm:

"_______", your situation has intrigued some of us since it all sounds a little over the top and I've been wondering why it happened when everything seemed quite reasonable.

I mentioned the case to our nanny, who is Philippina, and she shed some light on it -
maybe. She immediately said 'That's not fair' and I said 'Why? It seems enough notice and enough money was paid. Why wasn't it fair?' She said, 'It would have been better to let her go after she was back in Japan because now she is stuck in the Philippines. She cannot easily get back if she doesn't have an employer.'
Assuming that your previous nanny is still in the Philippines, it sounds likely that this may be the issue at heart and not the money.
If so, perhaps there is a way for your to let her come back under your previous employment, keep her sponsorship until it runs out while finding another job. This doesn't have to cost you anything and may even be a much a kinder option.
I was a little surprise at our nannie's quick response until I thought about it and
realized that I didn't grow up facing difficulties leaving my own country. I can
easily fly to other countries and acquire a stamp upon arrival to stay for a few
months if I want. Other nations such as the Philippines have long waiting lists for tourist visas and many get turned down even when they have family here.
So not being able to leave her country when it was so hard-won, might have led
her to seek help.
I look forward to hearing more about it.

By Cornelia on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 12:26 am:

Dear Anne, I think that was exactly the point that I was making. Frankly, four months for mandatory pregnancy leave is far more than most countries' laws insist on anyway, so maybe she had some difficulties on top of everything else. I lost my job the moment I couldn't go back to work after 8 weeks after giving birth here in Japan (because I couldn't find daycare). But at least my employer didn't call up immigration and tell them that I was no longer working there. So I had time to find new work. (I finally got public daycare when my baby was 5 months old, on 1 April).

By Martin Pfohl on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 3:50 am:

Hi All,
I just could not keep my 2 cents out of this discussion after following it for the last couple days. Although my thoughts may not be seen kindly by some.
I think _________ hits the nail squarely on the head, don't trust them too much even if they seem trustworthy and on the level -I was married to a Filipina for 10 years, until she got her citizenship and bolted. The point is, and this was straight from the ex's mouth, 'Say anything, do anything it takes if you want to get (stay) out of the Phils.' - They will stab you in the back if it is to thier advantage. As a further illustration albiet a bit off the subject, Thier family ties will always come first even before thier spouse, or, contractual employer, even.
It seems apperent also that this 'anything' mentality is pervasively instilled to many Filipinas as the easy way out of a life there.
Probably the best thing to do is always, always have reliable references or background checks before hiring.
Of course, it is not right to suggest all Filipinos are like this. There are still many all over the world who live an honourable and upstanding life and who serve as a model and credit to thier nation and people.
Jaa, watashi dake no omou deshita, I am sorry to offend anyone. Good Luck!

By Tonette Binsol on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 7:16 am:

You hit the nail on its head too, Martin.
Colleague, as another point to ponder, we cannot put a Filipino or any Filipino in just one box and this is the same for any nationality, either in micro or macro perspective. While we had many unfortunate experiences with "Filipinos", it is not safe to generalize. While "many" could be a useful word, there are two sides of the coin always and persevering ones who help the country always long for an unbiased person who will flip this coin. There's no doubt that the "image" is right there but there are hardworkers who do something about it. Hardworkers struggle and in every challenge, we meet opponents who were once Filipinos or those who encountered Filipinos once or n (again "many") times in their lifetime. It can't be helped but to understand their situations. By the way, I had a share of those worst experiences or testimonies but the country's deserving portion won't be helped if I'll center on myself.

It's worth knowing too that Filipinos anywhere in the world populate and make churches alive. Please check your local church and see for yourself who are the ones actively involved. You will see "many" nannies singing at the top of their voices to make every mass alive, others assisting the priest and a number creating religious activities and projects for fundraising activities to help "many" unfortunate folks back home.

By Scott Hancock on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 8:54 am:

Again, I point out that there's nothing in "_______"'s original post that says he made any move to "cancel" her visa. Even if the employment contract was terminated, if her visa had not yet expired, she would have still been able to enter Japan on it. As far as I know, there's no way Immigration checks your actual state of employment on entry once you have a valid visa. They're only looking for that stamp with the valid date.

If she let the visa expire during the time she was out of Japan, then it would have been a complicated situation to get it reinstated in any case, and would be unrelated to the labor maternity issue.

As for calling up immigration and telling them one is no longer working - as far as I know, immigration has no process whereby they "cancel" the visa in this way. I think we even checked this out one time. I believe this to be a myth that the visa can be cancelled by the employer. If someone else has authoritative knowledge or personal experience otherwise, I'd love to hear it.

I appreciate the comments illuminating the background on this "cultural values gap". What one group sees as despicable dishonesty, the other sees as survival. To me, the way to achieve balance and keep the exchange predictable for everyone is to do as David did and have a written contract with clear conditions. Also applies to instructions and changes along the way. Write everything down in very simple, direct and clear English and give everyone a copy. For those of us on the priviledged side of the deal, we simply have to understand that the values of the other side are different. Try to keep the emotion out of it.

This becomes very difficult as home helpers so often take on the role of a family member. It feels unnatural and cruel to give written instructions to a family member. Maybe keeping a copy of this thread would help to remind. David's situation could have happened just as easily if he'd been employing the person for years.

As the fine comments about not generalizing point out, there are many exceptions. But, both sides (unfortunate to use that word) have to keep in mind a clear agreement is an attempt to discover and resolve differences before they come out as a disagreement.
My .02, Scott

By Cornelia on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 10:19 am:

Wrong. When your contract with an employee is terminated permaturely you are in fact supposed to notify immigration. No one does it except very rarely and usually to be spiteful. There is no punishment if you neglect to do it so therefore no one does it.
Yes there is a procedure for chasing down people who have lost their jobs and have failed to report to immigration. It happened to an Irish programmer friend of mine. He was deported. It took about 4-5 months for the paperwork to catch up with him. He had just lined up a new job with a news wire service which was to start on 1 September and was deported on the 15 August. And in his case it was purely because of vindictiveness. His previous company had sacked about 13 programmers and they all had visa problems except a couple who were married to Japanese. He also had no idea that he was doing anything wrong (since he was just doing what everyone else was doing...)

Yes, if you lose your job you lose your visa. The rules on enforcement have been fairly lax in the past. If you are in Japan, you can usually line up a new job, and the new employer will do the job sponsor paperwork for your when your next visa renewal date comes around. I've done it and so have countless others but it is in fact illegal.

I reiterate, the ladies who do the domestic service jobs all talk to each other, they all know the score, and I'm betting that they generally know more than their employers since most of their employers don't even handle their own immigration issues (their companies do it all for them), and thus have rather vague knowledge of all that goes on.

PS. Unlike Martin, I have had almost exclusively wonderful experiences with Filipinos and I can't say enough positive about Leonor Brito and her husband Jimmy (whom I've recommmended several times in the classifieds). BUT I have also been robbed in Manila, and set up for a scam by a Filipino in Hong Kong. So I don't really think the nationality should really be at issue here. I think that Anne's suggestions are the most helpful and realistic. The labor advocates are not going to be unreasonable. They haven't got the resources to back a misrepresented issue.

By Anne Bergasse on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 11:22 am:

Yes, Scott and Cornelia, you are both right. Using an existing visa to buy time to acquire a new job is done but not legal. However, I've seen first hand, Immigration being very lenient to Philippinas by extending their visa by 3 months to allow them to find another sponsor and I understand this is the norm.

This discussion is quite lively with many various viewpoints coming out of the
woodwork that make one raise one's eyebrows but I think we are missing vital information. "_______", does your previous nanny still have a valid visa? Her visa
status and the arrangement that you had when she went to the Philippines to have her baby have not been clarified.

You may not want to share this but here is some food for thought. If her visa is still valid, she could come back into the country. As long as you do not notify Immigration that she is terminated she would not be at risk of deportation. Once here, she can take steps to find another sponsor. If she does not have a valid visa and you gave her the understanding that she would be sponsored to come back then its a bit of a pickle. Regardless of what you think about her values and ethics, she has lost a chance to put her family through school. Working in Japan is top of the list for the best employment situations for overseas workers and as a result there is a huge waiting list for Philippinas trying to get here. It will be very difficult for her to get sponsorship to come back. I know this for a fact, because our nannie's family has had to jump through tremendous hoops in their unsuccessful bids to get other members sponsorship as well as just a simple tourist visa.

Hopefully all will work out well for both of you.
cheers, anne

By Scott Hancock on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 1:16 pm:

Cornelia,OK! I stand corrected and appreciate the new information. This is very useful to know. So, in this case the question of whether "_______" did or did not notify immigration is very key to her concerns and motivation to engage her authorities. I think it's safe to assume that he did not, in which case, her aggressive response doesn't seem productive.

I still kind of differ with you on your last statement about the workers knowing better than the employers. We have had the reverse experience (my above error notwithstanding). I would never, as an employer, go by what a worker claims the rules are.

I guess I risk sounding like a captialist porcine, but I would not trust any organization on either side of such issues to abide by what seems "reasonable".

This is a great thread! I'm learning a lot!

By Cornelia on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 2:48 pm:

Dear Scott, I would just be careful not to assume anything at all, even if the source is someone at immigration itself, because even there some of us have gotten some information one day, perhaps over the phone, and apparently contradictory information after going in person, etc. In this whole melee, we've only had a few facts to go on and we certainly have not heard anything from the lady herself, so we dont' really know how "_______" has really behaved either, do we? (NO offense intended "_______", but just stating a reality.)

This whole conversation could just as easily be completely hypothetical and none of us would be the wiser. (Which reminds me of my very Kafkaesque experience with NTT over the past weeks... )

By Scott Hancock on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 5:26 pm:

Yes, of course we shouldn't assume anything.

How about inserting some explanatory text at the top of this in place of the original post, such as:

This discussion concerns a "hypothetical" situation where a qualified individual (EMPLOYER) sponsored and employed a person as a domestic helper (HELPER) and subsequently experienced a difficulty with the HELPER.

Sometime during the first year of the employment contract, the HELPER becomes pregnant and returns to their home country to give birth. Sometime during this absence, but not necessarily before or after the birth, the EMPLOYER needs to terminate the contract and does so by paying one month's salary in lieu of the contracted one-month notice.

Four months after leaving Japan, but an undetermined time after the notice of termination, the EMPLOYER receives contact from
the HELPER claiming unfair termination and engages
two workers' rights organizations, a labor union, and the embassy of the HELPER to protest EMPLOYER's action and claiming it was improper due to some connection with the HELPER's pregnant condition and Japanese labor rules.

Please delete this post if you like.

By Tonette Binsol on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 10:58 pm:

Scott, is this implying that the right rests on the employer to terminate the contract whenever he wants to?

By Scott Hancock on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 11:14 pm:

There may be some gray area here, strictly speaking. I'm not sure if contracts with domestic helpers are any different than regular employment contracts. I also am not sure of the exact rule difference - if any between individuals doing hiring vs companies.

For purposes of this "hypothetical" situation (because we don't really know the full facts), there is an assumption that, since the original contract included a termination clause where EITHER party could terminate with one-month notice, the EMPLOYER was within his rights. In this generalized example, the HELPER would also have had the right.

Beyond this hypothetical / vague example, it is certainly true that a full fledged company employee cannot easily be terminated simply because the employer decides. There must be substantial reasons - of which there are many possibilities. There also exists within the labor law that is applied to companies, other provisions for maternity & child care leave which could apply to such basic situation as the one discussed. Again, at this point even the example discussed here is far too vague for anyone to say definitely one way or the other, I think. So, I do not mean to imply anything definitive.

I hope this is helpful.

By visa sponsor on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 11:41 pm:

Thank you all. Perhaps under a pseudonym we can learn more about how this all turns out and the facts behind the issues raised. I am somewhat amazed at the interest in these issues. Clearly this is an important topic to many people and one of great confusion at the moment.

I asked the moderator to remove the "facts" of the issues so no linkage could be made in future to the real people and agencies involved. Thanks for your understanding.

I think many people do not realise the risks for both the employers and workers of not being aware of what is right/wrong under the Japanese Labour Laws, especially when dealing with migrant workers, foreign employers and in the home situation.

Negotiations continue and I imagine the facts are going to be of great interest and value to future arrangements, contracts and negotiations, both for the sponsors and the workers alike. With correct information hopefully we can all make better and fairer arrangements where no one feels at risk, at fault or hard done by.

For the record she is in Japan with a valid visa, has been for months. There are migrant workers rights issues and those are being protected, there are no human rights issues and this is not the forum for those.
"Tokyo WITH Kids" remember.

The children's rights for a nuturing and happy environment at home come before anything else. Enough said.

Thanks "Admin" much appreciated. By removing the names of the real people and organisations involved hopefully this discussion forum can focus more on the issues, the law and how the foreign community in Japan should navigate these issues in future in case anything like this happens again, as I'm sure it will.

Therefore I am happy to be involved and keep you posted anonymously which I hope will be more useful for future reference, but also more importantly protect the rights and freedoms of all involved going forward.

By the way, the Filipino people I have come into contact with throughout my life have always been honest and of high integrity. I recognise there are those in any culture who are not, however that's not what this is all about. My nanny has every right to fight for what she thinks is wrong and seek recompense, I also have every right to defend myself under the law and limit my expense, the damage to my reputation, and my families right to privacy and safety.

More later ...

By Tonette Binsol on Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 1:13 am:

You're right there to prove your right, Visa Sponsor. We all have equal rights and we must defend ourselves especially if these rights had been violated. Your last statement is absolutely correct:

"My nanny has every right to fight for what she thinks is wrong and seek recompense, I also have every right to defend myself under the law and limit my expense, the damage to my reputation, and my families right to privacy and safety."

And that is true for your nanny's expense, reputation, privacy and safety too. It is because both of you have equal rights. Also, I think that your nanny must start a discussion thread too under an alias too so we spectators/third parties will understand both sides. Both of you have the right to hide your names for your own protection and safety.

If this complaint is not all about a violation then what is it all about?

As you wrote, what are these migrant workers' rights and which of these are being protected and who are protecting these rights? What human rights should not be covered in this forum (since they're not violated at all) so I'll prevent including these as issues?

Isn't it the reason why this saga is continuing or there had been ignorance from the start of the existence of these rights because we're dealing with only a nanny after all? Or I could be wrong with what I am implying here. Pls delete this part if this will be marked wrong by many, dear Admin.

Scott, together, let's research and share about the labor laws and civil codes in Japan and that could clear some gray area here so we could help the parties involved in a way.


PS. I might have met some of you in conferences or seminars of several professional societies and associations in Tokyo. It's only a small world after all. Cheers!

By Clifton Pascua on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 4:23 am:

I am posting this reply to specially answer _________.

It is not my style to say harsh words to anybody I do not know personally but I cannot just ignore _________'s shameful way of branding Filipinos “untrustworthyE

Shame on you and hopefully you are not a descendant of those slave traders of the past centuries! What do you know anyway about Filipinos if you yourself cannot even find a place you call your own nation? Do not tell me you are an American for I never heard an American who got brains like yours! I have the feeling that you are one of those disappearing specimen worth putting in a cage because you cannot adapt at all to the harsh realities of the 21st century.

It may be true that some Filipinos do live and SUBSIST the way you described but that is the way the LESS FORTUNATE FILIPINOS can and will survive in a world populated by ungracious and selfish people like you. Filipinos, no matter how hard life is, still and will always find a way of putting a bowl of rice in front of her family. Now, I bet you don’t even have a REAL family of your own for I bet again NOBODY trusts a person who cannot trust a nation.

Did you know that whatever you wrote that prompted me to write this is you waged a war against the Filipino nation and here I am acting as a General of the lowly Filipino domestic workers around the world?

My first step is to sue you for subversion and your racist attitude towards the Filipino People and I would very much like to see you in front of an international tribunal and get you caged for your dirty mouth. I would like to sue you for everything you said for degrading and defaming the Filipino People by your predating attitude of negatively profiling lowly domestic servants.

Whatever the reason that gave you the idea of insulting the Filipino nation does not merit any sociological status you presume you belong with. If you are one of those fortunate few whose food is served on a silver platter, then you do not have any business putting your dirty hands to those who are trying to live decently with their bowl of rice served in a CLEAN coconut shell!

You are right, our nation is largely dependent from remittances to keep our economy afloat but we do not beg from other nations for food aids –like some African nations. Not just yet -until there are those resilient OFWs sending money to their families. Never underestimate how wide can a small amount of money sent back to the Philippines can do to what I call micro-economy. Basing from my own experience, the farmers from my village in the Philippines are more productive now due to micro-financing brought by OFW remittances.

My second step is to try to teach you a little of world history.
____________, you should review your world history, if ever you reached university and got one. Please do not forget that the Philippines, from time immemorial, were victims of exploitation by rich countries. The Filipinos –by nature are peaceful loving people and THEIR TRUST was then exploited by people of your same kind. Two world wars came and we fought side by side with the community of nations who we thought believed in civility (with trust). What did we get? NOTHING but make-believe PROMISES. Remember, the Philippines did not get any MARSHAL Plan like Japan and Western Europe after World War II.

The common Filipino (where these domestic servants came from) fended for themselves without a share of the blessings given by America at that time. If ever there was, it could have been corrupted by crocodiles like you and 99 percent of the populace were left struggling however decently continue living without sacrificing their Filipino identity.

And here we are, a part of that Filipino population, trying to save whatever we can save a face. We go to other countries to look for a living and sometimes encounter people like you. But still, we believe in God that someday, somehow, our meagre income will become an instrument of uplifting our economy.

Try going in the rural areas where these domestic servants came from. Because of their micro-financing, people have now the ability of producing their own rice supply for the year. Filipino Farmers (the parents and neighbours of these domestic workers you wrongfully accused) are now more independent as a positive by-product of their earnings as domestic workers in a foreign country.

MIND YOU __________, a single domestic servant is unknowingly feeding a whole village. And a whole 8 million of us is feeding the whole nation.

I cannot really understand why people like you have the brains and blood of a crocodile! You pretend to be very knowing yet –the destructive way. In this letter, I will play the same role you did to the Filipino Nation –I am the General, the Prosecutor and the Judge.

Yet I will be more civilized than you. I will forgive you if you post another letter apologizing to the Millions of Filipino Domestic Servants around the world. You help us fight for our basic rights then we will offer you a proud nation.

Hereunder was my privileged speech in one of the conventions I attended hosted by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) sponsored by the European Commission. With this, you may learn why I became so bitter with what you have written while there are people struggling to save the plight of our Overseas Filipino Workers. Go farther than Japan, Europe and the United States and you will see how much these people (OFW’s) need a helping hand to protect their basic human rights.

“Ladies and gentlemen -again, this is Clifton Pascua of the Grand Ilocandia of Belgium. 1/

Yesterday when I made the comment that at last after the European concerns of dogs, cats and other disappearing species, -we have at least the ETUC trying to look after the lowest segment of today’s society -the non-professional (so we called yesterday) -domestic worker.

Of all the presentations I heard, it is very disconcerting to say that there is really nothing new, -if I have to base from my research from past legislations and literatures I have in hand, “to really benefit the lowly domestic workerE

I may specifically exclude to a certain extent the presentations made by Ms. Holland of the United Kingdom and Mr. Bart Vannetelbosch of Belgium. Yes, PM Tony Blair and his Labour Party did make a pioneering example of giving a chance, if not sympathy to domestic workers in the British isles. But the question is, -how many Tony Blair’s and UK Labour Party mentalities do we have here in the European Union to help the ETUC cause –“Bringing The Domestic Helpers Out From the Shadows To The LightE

Let us face it. All that we heard are mostly restrictions -‘inability to do thisE ‘impossible to do thatE Europe, -after all the colonial banditries of stealing the resources of the countries of these so-called “third-world-country-domestic-workersE and with all due respect to diplomatic protocols and exigencies of politeness, until we see a concrete and positive political recognition towards the domestic workers here in Europe and the rest of the world, I call it a sham.

On the other hand, if the ETUC can really pave a way of having the results of today’s seminar create a dent into the unyielding or rather medieval mentality of todays so called modern Europe, then it shall become an example to the whole world for the emancipation of this century’s slave trade problem.

I call it slave trade without further elaboration, -you should understand, for most of you here are trade unionists. We all heard the story of Raquel; some wept for her predicament and her story is almost the same to almost all third world country migrant workers. We come here in your country to share the benefits of the riches you stole from us centuries ago. We are here being enslaved to get our meagre share of the profits your multi-national companies are now “bleeding-outEfrom our helpless economies.

Yesterday and today, a lot of us seemed to focus into the untaxed income of the undeclared domestic helper. And again, with all due respect to the purposes of this seminar believing that if trade unions would really like to help these people, -then let us give them first the dignity and recognition they deserve, for I trust that it will be easier then for the government to tackle the tax problem afterwards. But if trade unions start putting its nose on the economy revolving within the circle of domestic helpers, I have the feeling that you will not only chase them away, you will also create alienation towards the benefits of engaging them for collective bargaining. Remember, as you have said yourselves yesterday, -they need more brains to be called professionals.

If trade unions would really like to help these people, then let us do it without any reservation. Let us not look for their weaknesses –their deficiencies -for it is only from you ladies and gentlemen, can they look for a hope in their hopeless conditions. You are the only remaining lobbying body that can represent them to the government. They cannot do it alone. They cannot get out from the dark without you.

And by doing so will also bring out Europe to the grips of medieval hypocrisy Efor whether you like it or not, you still need a domestic worker to look after your dogs and cats.E

1/ Speech/comment delivered to the ETUC conference/seminar on Domestic Workers/ 14 E15 April 2005.

By Geraldine Sudario on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 10:15 am:

Very well said Mr. Pascua. I am so glad that there are still people like you who can still stand up for those who had no choice but to leave our country and be parted from their families just to secure their future. May your message be an inspiration to all OFW's.

By Lorraine Zinnack on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 10:56 am:

Dear Mr Pascua,

Your message here makes me feel very sad and I felt I needed to write and tell you how I felt when I saw it Eas you had done when you saw ________'s letter.

You obviously feel very bitter about the whole Filipino situation, I understand a little how you feel. I know how difficult it is for Filipino people, and we have many Filipino women who come here to Australia to work and send money home or to marry older men in hopes that they can better their own lives and that of their families back home.

Unfortunately though, your way of speaking back in anger does NOT help to make things better. Do two wrongs make a right? Does lashing back at someone (who probably also feels wronged and hurt) help to heal the wounds felt by each side? Or does it make the other person feel even more bitterness, anger Eand eventually hate. The hate then grows, with each side trying to hit out and hurt the other person (or group, or country) in an ever bigger way than was dealt to them. The final result is lasting hate which can hurt generations of people who aren’t even born at this moment; which can turn to war if it gets big enough. AND THAT HURTS EVERYONE, INCLUDING THE INNOCENT ON BOTH SIDES.

Attack brings attack, hate engenders hate. A very obvious example is what is happening between Muslims and westerners this last few years Ethe flames of anger are getting bigger by the month and if they are not somehow stopped, will finally engulf us all.

BUT forgiveness brings forgiveness. A quiet answer (a firm, truthful answer, given in the right spirit) helps to quieten anger and helps the healing process. It does not add to the conflict.

There are many, many wrongs that have been done in the past, and wrongs that are still happening. No-one, no matter how much they would like to, can change the past. But we can change the future Efor better or worse.

To be gentle is NOT weak. It is strength, because it is much easier to lash out in anger than to seek for peace and healing. It is not giving in to wrong, it is not allowing yourself to be walked all over, but finding ways to heal the hurts and to find a new start Efor everyone, including the one who hurt you.

Think about it Eunless you are less than human, what is it that you seek Epeace and safety for the ones you care about, or misery and terror for them?
Do you want to see babies and children living in terror, in pain, in poverty, and growing up to hate every one around them? I don’t believe you want that. I believe you are trying in the only way you know how to make things better for Filipino people. You don’t want to see them exploited either.

If you are a normal human being with normal thoughts and feelings (and I believe you are), you want to see them being able to live happy, peaceful, productive lives, safe with their families and friends, their children growing up to have their own families in turn.

Think about the words you used both in your open letter to _________ and in the talk you have quoted as giving at the convention
hosted by the European Trade Union Confederation.

Can you honestly say they are things that encourage peace, harmony and understanding? They are not; they are words that inflame, and in the finish can lead to bomb throwing instead of word throwing.

Someone I respect and base my life on once said ‘bless those who curse you, pray for those who despitefully misuse youE It is also said that ‘a gentle answer turns away anger.E It’s not weak to do so Eit can be a powerful antidote against evil.

Words are powerful. They bring out powerful emotions. Each of us has the power to bring peace or destruction by the way we speak. I beg you to think carefully about your words and to use them wisely instead of using the first angry insults that come into your heart and mouth. Help the people you care about, don’t bring them more hurt. Don’t belittle yourself and the Filipino people by speaking as an immature child, but work and speak powerfully and effectively as a mature person to help bring about the changes this world needs so that NO-ONE needs to live in fear and poverty.

Bless you Mr. Pascua, with peace in your heart and THEN power in your work.

By Scott Hancock on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 11:46 am:

What an awesome post. Thank you so much for writing it.

By Scotth on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 11:58 am:

The author of the message Mr. Pascua responded to has requested the original post be removed to put the issue to rest and avoid further turmoil.

By Clifton Pascua on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 6:06 pm:

Dear Ms. Zinnack,

Thank you for your advice. In fact I had two versions of that open letter, the second was written the diplomatic way (the way you talked –that reminded me of my Mom back in the Philippines.).

When I decided to post what you have seen, I have already weighed the benefits it can give to my people –basing from the numerous cases of abuse I have already handled. And mind you, the subtle formula you are recommending works perfectly. But it is very sad to say that it works only with people of open mentality. The “nouveau richeEcannot just understand what you are telling me.

These rich patrons seem to know well that migrant workers like Filipinos don’t get a clear protection of local laws (as it is inside a private household) thus this constant exploitation –thus the necessity of showing once in a while some show of force.

Although my open letter sounded vindictive to you, it was not meant for people who treat their domestic workers well. I know that a great majority of domestic employers even consider their maids part of their family, the best unwritten law Filipinos can get in a foreign country.

And to every Filipino or anybody who reads Ms. Zinnack’s letter, shall take it as a lesson in pursuit of peace and understanding. You should also see in my previous letter that I also offered a compromise of peace, so long as we see a letter of remorse and apologies from the offending person.

But I stand firm to what I have already said in my first letter. And this shall also serve as a lesson to anybody who will again defame and insult the Filipino nation. No individual has the right to brand a nation based from personal “badEexperience. This is not meant to be inflammatory but let it be known that it is our patriotic right to defend what is little left in our miserable life of working as domestic helpers Efor the sake of our love ones –so they called extended families, and to our nation.

And summarizing the lessons learned from Ms. Zinnack’s and mine, negotiate peacefully but do not yield to abuse and exploitation. Do not let go your identity of being a real Filipino Epeace loving, industrious, dependable, humble etc. etc.

Thank you again Mrs. Zinnack.



May we both ask Mr. Hancock his reasons why he promptly endorsed your letter?

By Cornelia on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 12:10 am:

I would like to put in my two cents here (from my vacation hideout). I personally am a strong advocate of freedom of speech, having been drilled with the concept from a young age in the public school system of the United States. After living 13 years in Japan, I have grown to realize that most Americans have pretty strong limitations on the concept of freedom of speech that they may even be unaware of. And certainly the concept is not at all endorsed the same way in many other cultures.

Since the foreigners living in Japan are not all from the USA, we all need to realize that we are coming at various issues from different viewpoints. And some can not use English with the delicacy (or emptiness) of a diplomat.

So, if people posting want to use language and write feelings that are just on the border of unacceptable and begging for volatile responses, they should be prepared for the consequence. It is guaranteed that someone will be offended, and there is a chance that they will respond. If you don't want that kind of trouble, then don't write! It's that simple. Clifton Pascua responded to a statement "don't trust any of them", which was a strong statement generalizing a whole group, and guaranteed to upset someone.

Clifton seems to think that the rest of us agreed with that statement, but I made a point of stating that I disagree in my post above dated: Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 09:19am and there were others who disagreed.

I do think that Clifton's post was far too long. As the owner of this website, I am right now considering putting a size limitation on the posts. The site is getting too big, and everytime it shoots over 300MB I get charged extra every month. I do think that Clifton could have said all he said in about half or a third of the space. Please try to write concisely.

I also liked Ms. Zinnack's post specifically because it shows maturity and wisdom. HOWEVER, I would appreciate it if this discussion could stay on topic, namely: General Discussions: Domestic Using Unions to Litigate

By Clifton Pascua on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 3:46 am:

Epoint well taken Cornelia. I will make it short. But first, show me how to compress my first post without omitting what I wanted the world to know, lest I be judged immature. If you own the website, then assume the responsibility of possibly getting a gullible lawyer/judge picking on those impertinent posts; however YOU tolerated, until I came in!

Did you say write concisely? I am sorry. Must be because I adopted the diplomatic French language (in place of English) as my second language 20 years ago aside from other 5 Filipino dialects I speakE. and write with perfection.

Your call for order! Yes your honour and my apologies. But I respectfully request that you be fair enough as a moderator not to specifically call names and posts, otherwise you better keep your website with Saddam Hussein. Unless you think you are superior like Ms. Ferguson, then you will likely overrule my request.

RE: this threadE, you are giving an illusion to others that you may find a solution to the problem of that poor victim of SUPERIORITY. Don’t you see, all the posts were all evasive and mostly like Judas washing their hands with filthy oil. Don’t get me wrong and nothing immature and childish. There was never a country whose laws specifically protect their immigrant domestic workers, not in the U.S., not in Europe. It is just your website and a few others. Even ILO cannot impose their laws –for until there are people who know nothing but to look for weaknesses, then everything will be in vain!

Read my speech!

Now who is childish and immature and not concise? Or do you use these words only when you are cornered or worst when a Filipino is writing.

Then I feel sorry for youE.

Sorry, I could have said everything in only one sentence.

Mrs. Zinnack, what do you think?

By Nancy on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 9:01 am:

Is this a DISCUSSION ?
It is looking more like a debate to me. If I had just joined this forum, whose title is "Japan with Kids" I would certainly be less inclined to visit again. There are enough forums in Japan where people insult one another and debate social issues.....personally I liked this forum because it was different, generally a friendly place for the exchange of ideas and advice on issues with living with children in Japan. Presumably this issue made it to the board as someone hired a domestic helper to assist with the care of the children. Administrators- why not close this discussion? I am not advocating censorship, but there is a time and place for everthing, and in my opinion, this is just not the place. There is enough heat outside right now.

By Marie Kawachi on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 10:31 am:

I agree with Nancy,I like this forum for the reason that I learned alot of ideas and informations that I am not aware of. I also recommend the closure of this particular discussion if other people will abuse this forum.

By Caroline on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 10:52 am:

I TOTALLY agree with Nancy and Marie. This place is supposed to be friendly, informative and positive. Let's keep it that way!

By Scott Hancock on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 11:58 am:

Please give Cornelia some time to respond as she's away from home.

Let's also all be reminded that she operates this site with no commercial gain and much psychic expense.

By Anne Bergasse on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 11:59 am:

I agree with Nancy as well. There is no way
this discussion will go anywhere except to
provide a stage for venting. I would rather
read about the issue at hand which was
about the possible litigation case that
started it all.

By Shibuya on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 12:07 pm:

I disagree. There are many, many
other forums on this site where
the direction of the
"discussions" is more of an
informative tone--read those
posts instead. I think there are
some interesting points being
brought up here--things many
poeple don't have a chance to
discuss on other sites.

I must say that I don't
understand why Clifton Pascua
seems so angered at the website.
I think it was made obvious by
many posters that there are
quite a lot of site members who
disagreed with the post that
expressed harsh opinions of
Filipino workers (I can't seem
to find the original post on the
site anymore). Keep in mind,
too, that the wirter was a
Filipino citizen herself.
Perhaps when writing about one's
own countrymen and women it
seems fair game to criticize
more harshly?

By Caroline on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 4:54 pm:

A friend of mine worked for an embassy for 4 years and was laid off with NO prior notice. What's more, the employer even attempted to get a letter of resignation from my friend, which she of course refused to write!! The letter would have allowed the employer to avoid paying the remaining 1-month salary. Because the work was undeclared the employer was free to do as he chose and there was nothing my friend could do legally to claim her job back or any kind of compensation for that matter. Migrant workers are not the only ones targeted by unfair employment/lay-off practices. This might help put some perspective into this whole debate. I'm pretty sure the original poster was looking to share information and advice and I don't think he is quite getting it in this forum.

By Sponsor on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 7:11 pm:

To all,
I am the original person who posted a simple question to other parents in Tokyo about trying to be fair about needing to terminate a contract with our helper because our own familyfs employment status had changed whilst she was away for 4 months so we needed a completely different arrangement. On top of that we had ongoing issues with her work, which we had discussed several times with her in the past.
I was shocked and dismayed at the racial responses I received and asked the moderator to remove all postings. This was never to do with the nationality of the worker, it was about the contract, how much notice I needed to give and how much I should pay as termination pay to ensure fairness for the worker involved, the legalities of the contract and Japanese labour law were met in full but also that it made financial sense for our family. It was also about the happiness of our 4 year old child in her own home. Sometimes these employment relationships simply donft work out in the long term, especially when the person is living in your home and bringing up your children and you (the worker or the employer) need to be able to change the arrangement. This should be done carefully and fairly to all parties involved and we believe we have done that. Legally we are 100% clear as well, she is able to work for anyone else she pleases and her visa is valid so its just about how much money is a fair termination. She obviously wanted more than the monthfs pay in lieu plus the other expenses & bonuses paid however, and therein lay the issue and ongoing negotiations with various other entities.

So after the posting I received initially very helpful and thoughtful advice from many of you (thanks !) however as more people became involved the issues became blurred with different agendas and I have since watched this "debate" continue with a sense of sadness.
Please look around on the rest of this forum - its about helpful advice for parents living in Tokyo - fun parks to take kids to, where to buy prams, great schools that speak English, how to get a babysitter, and in this instance advice on whether any one had dealt with a Japanese contract release like this before. Thatfs all. No racial slurs, migrant workers rights, oppressed nations,c just a simple question.
I would like to propose we close and remove this thread from the public eye before anyone else is offended. I would also like to setup a new thread to talk about the complexities of hiring domestic workers (of any nationality) and how to setup contracts that are legal, fair to all and set the appropriate expectations so other people in future may learn from it. This I believe is a worthy goal for the Tokyo-for-Kids website - hopefully the other agendas can be fought out on a different website with audiences more appropriate to those issues.
Apologies for ever starting this thread, and to anyone who was offended by remarks from other contributors along the way.

By Lorraine Zinnack on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 10:50 pm:

Lorraine Zinnack here.
I heartily agree that enough has been said on the issue on this board. If you would like to contact me privately Clifton, I will be more than happy to continue our conversation. You can surely see what I meant, though, about words being able to enflame and to harm. A child only knows how to hit back when he is hit. We are adults, and as adults need to work and speak for justice for all, but in a way that builds bridges, not walls between people.
Now - does anyone know of Japanese families who might be interested in improving their conversational English at our peaceful Farmstay in Australia?

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