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Go Negotiate! Campaign for a Social Security Agreement between Greece and the Philippines
Please support the Philippine migrants’ campaign for justice Migrants from the Philippines are one of the first migrant communities to settle in Greece. Mostly employed as domestic workers in the homes of Greek employers, we continue to contribute to the economy of our host country as well as to the economy of the Philippines. We are part of the millions of overseas Filipino workers who support the Philippine economy with our remittances. Every month we pay regularly our social security contribution to the social security agency (IKA) in Greece, through which we are able to benefit for our medical needs as well as for our pensions we are entitled to upon our retirement. But because we lack a bilateral agreement between Greece and the Philippines, we are not able to receive the benefits when we return to our home country upon retirement!A quest for justiceThe whole issue is one of justice, Filipino migrants say. We say that aside from medical benefits, we are entitled to receive our pensions, after years of monthly social security contributions, whether in the Philippines or in Greece. It is a sad commentary that many of us have returned to the Philippines, our bodies tired, some of us are crippled, from the years of backbreaking work, without ever getting the pensions from our monthly contributions. Even for the lucky ones who have qualified for retirement benefits, we have to stay in Greece so that we can to continue receiving our monthly pensions. If our pensioners decide to return to the Philippines we run the risk of eventually losing it, for example, when our ATM card reaches expiry date. The only solution we, the migrants, see is a formal agreement on bilateral social security between the Greek and Philippine governments. We, Philippine migrants, understand that formal agreement between the two governments is beyond their purview. To our credit, the two governments’ social security agencies have made two rounds of negotiations. However in 2010, the Greek government on a note verbal to the Philippine government to hold in abeyance the 3rd round of negotiation. Kasapi HellasIn our discussion with the Greece’ social security agency, we have found willingness to resume negotiations under the new government, which, notwithstanding the severe economic crisis, is willing to resume discussions with the Philippines. For us, we are aware that formal relations between governments are beyond our purview. But we believe that the issue of bilateral social security directly concerns us. For this reason, we have decided to take a more active role: to get the two governments to resume the stalled round of negotiation. Last year we launched a signature campaign with the participation of Greek workers as a demonstration of solidarity with the Philippine migrant workers. We have also decided to bring the issue globally to get the support in our demand for immediate resumption of the 3rd round of negotiations. Clearly it is our right to benefit from our many years of monthly social security contributions. It is a matter of justice! Please support the cause of Philippine migrants in our struggle for justice!