MALAYA: Displaced Pinoy caregivers in UK find a champion

Dec. 10, 2007

The longest-serving woman member of Parliament in Britain is leading efforts to save 80,000 Filipino caregivers threatened with deportation following the non-renewal of work-permits.

Turning 77 on Wednesday, Gwyneth Dunwoody, who represents Crewe and Nantwich in Westminster, is all praises for Filipino caregivers and castigated her government over what she dubbed as “shambolic treatment” against them.

Dunwoody has initiated an “early day motion” that cites senior caregivers, especially Filipinos, who have worked in the United Kingdom for at least five years.

To date, 54 other MPs have crossed party lines to join Dunwoody’s parliamentary resolution.

In a speech before parliament which British media dubbed as “stunning,” Dunwoody accused the new UK Border and Immigration Office of changing rules for caregivers “without consulting Parliament” and “in such a way that people who have been working sensibly and quietly at difficult jobs were told that their work permits would not be renewed.”

During a parliamentary debate where she grilled the Minister of State Liam Byrne, Dunwoody said that Filipinos were “enormously warm in their approach; and they do difficult jobs in care homes dealing with the elderly – in some cases for the minimum rates of pay.”

“They are doing jobs that Britons do not want to do – jobs that will not be filled successfully by people who are non-English-speaking,” added Dunwoody. “However, that appears to be the burden of the argument: get rid of people who are without the European institutions and countries, and replace them with people from Eastern Europe. If that is true, it has been done in the most astonishingly incompetent, insensitive and appallingly thought-out manner.”

Dunwoody said she agrees with MP Chris Ruane’s view that “of all immigrant groups, Filipinos are probably the most industrious, well-motivated, law-abiding and socially integrated in our society.”

Ruane, who says many Filipinos work in his area as caregivers, also that the “precipitous removal of Filipinos would be at great personal cost to the individuals, their families and the hundreds of thousands of elderly people who need that top-quality care.”

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