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Waling - Waling


Waling - Waling

Justice 4 all Migrant Workers & their Families

Domestic Workers are not Slaves, Servants, Maids or Family Members


Waling-Waling (WW) fought and won a campaign from 1984 – 1997 gaining basic rights for Migrant Domestic Workers.   We have reconvened in 2017 to Reclaim our Rights.

In April 2012, Teresa May, then Home Secretary in the coalition government, stripped migrant domestic workers of these rights.  She said they would be ‘protected’ under the Modern Slavery Act.

We now have workers without rights but with a promise of ‘protection’ thereby creating ‘victims’ of us workers.  Our experience over the years since 2012 shows clearly that there is no protection for us under the Modern Slavery Act.

What is Waling-Waling and Who Are We

Waling-Waling is a beautiful orchid growing in crevices in the mountain areas of the Philippines.  During the day it is closed but opens into a beautiful flower at night-time.  As migrant workers without rights in the UK we felt like the WW but  we also realised that together we could fight for our rights as human beings and as workers.  Our members consist of different nationalities but we have one thing in common – we are all workers and many of us are workers without rights.

The Permanent Peoples Tribunal

Following on the Hearing of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal in London in November 2018, and as one of the co-convening groups, we became acutely aware of the Hostile Environment in the UK and how all migrants are affected.  We want to show solidarity with migrants who are living in spaces without rights and to campaign for their human dignity as workers to be restored.


  • To support all migrant domestic workers in our search for justice, for fair wages and decent working and living conditions.  In other words, to have domestic work in private households recognized as work under Employment legislation

  • Along with Unite the Union and other organisations with similar objectives we aim to facilitate our learning and understanding of the society in which we are living

  • To actively campaign for the UK government to sign, ratify and implement the ILO Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers - C 189

  • In solidarity with all undocumented migrants and refugees in the UK, we join the campaigns for regularisation for all, knowing that as human beings we have a legitimate right to travel in order to create a decent life for ourselves and our families. World-wide people have travelled for this since the beginning of time.  Migrating is not a crime.


In 1979 the then newly elected Conversative government in trying to limit the number of people entering the UK stopped primary immigration and abolished the domestic worker visa.  This visa was used for people coming to work within the NHS, in the Hotel & Catering Industry, and in the private household.  But they still allowed wealthy employers to being their domestic staff with them, giving a ‘visitor’ visa to the domestic workers thereby tying them to their employer.  Outside the household of the employer the workers had no rights whatever and could be detained and deported by the immigration officials without reference to anyone.

From 1980 – 1997 because of inhuman treatment experienced in the private household, over 4,000 migrant domestic workers escaped from abusive employers and came to the Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW) for help. Many suffered from physical and sexual abuse, non-payment or underpayment of wages, long hours of work, and sleep and food deprivation.  We were beaten, had things thrown at us, for example, heavy glass ash trays, boiling water, we had our hair pulled and were constantly being shouted at with our employers using abusing and degrading terms, such as, donkey, (hamara) dog, (kalba) monkey, never by our name.  Our passports were usually withheld by our employers, which is a criminal offence but they were rarely, if ever, charged with theft, while we had to survive without a legal identity in the UK.

Now, our fellow migrant domestic workers escaping from similar brutalising households since 2012 when the hard-won domestic worker visa was abolished by another Conservative government, are citing the very same experiences.  But, because of the present ‘hostile environment’ it is even worse for them because civil society has been obliged to carry out surveillance that is the job of the Home Office.  So, now  they cannot open a bank account, they cannot rent a room, it is much more difficult for them to find a job and worse of all it is extremely difficult for them to access health care.  All undocumented people are in a similar situation.   

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