Jersey City, NJ- Activists, students and community members took a stand against labor trafficking after attending the community forum on the case of the Florida 15 workers last April 25 at Saint Peter’s College’s Pope Lecture Hall. The said forum was organized by Anakbayan New Jersey, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) and the Saint Peter’s College Social Justice Program.
At the community forum, two of the Florida 15 workers shared their experiences as survivors of labor trafficking. They talked about their recruitment from the Philippines, and the working conditions they endured under San Villa agency in Miami, Florida. They also discussed how this experience has affected their personal lives.
“We didn’t expect to end up like this. It’s been four long years. We miss our families and the children we’ve left behind. But there’s no turning back now. Tuloy ang laban! (the struggle continues!). This is not just for the Forida 15 but for all trafficking victims” said Cecil Delgado, the spokesperson of the Florida 15 workers.
The community forum also discussed the factors that lead to Labor Trafficking such as the Philippine Labor Export Policy. According to Yves Nibungco, current chairperson of Anakbayan NJ, landlessness and lack of job creation in the Philippines, coupled with the government “development” program of exporting Filipinos as commodities, creates the favorable condition for illegal recruitment and labor exploitation to thrive.
“In order for us to fully stop labor trafficking, we must fight against the Philippine government’s Labor Export Policy. Only by genuinely creating jobs at home through national industrialization and agrarian reform can we eliminate labor trafficking” said Yves Nibungco. “We call on the Filipino youth and students to stand up for our kababayans. Take a stand against labor trafficking and the Philippine labor export policy,” added Mr. Nibungco.
Jonna Baldres, Deputy Secretary General of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns talked about their current “Stop Trafficking Our People” campaign or STOP. NAFCON North East region will be organizing a community task force to pull resources and effort together. She called on the Filipino community to unite and join the struggle against labor trafficking.
The forum ended with a group photo and a community chant saying: “Stop, stop trafficking our people!.”