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Background of Waling-Waling

Updated: Mar 3, 2022


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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