Montreal was Arnel Salvador's last leg in his three-city tour of eastern Canada, including Toronto and Ottawa. In Montreal his week of activities was hosted by the Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC). Arnel Salvador is the executive deputy director of the Workers Assistance Centre (WAC) based in Cavite, Philippines. He was invited to Canada by KAIROS (a church-based social justice movement). The Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (Ottawa) and the Philippine Network for Justice and Peace (Toronto) also played an active role in his trip.
Arnel met with several union federations in Quebec including representatives from the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN) and the Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ). He also met with the Centre international de solidarité ouvrière (CISO- International Centre for Workers' Solidarity) campaign committee on sweatshops. Salvador exposed the situation in the Cavite Export Processing Zone where thousands of workers, mostly women, face the exploitative labour practices of foreign multi-national corporations. One of the most notorious is Wal-Mart, where a strike for the right to unionize at one of its Philippine suppliers, the Chong Won clothing factory, has been violently attacked.
CAP-CPC contacts among college professors were mobilized to help organize talks in schools to inform students about the high cost of low priced goods that corporate giants like Wal-Mart provide. It was an important part of building solidarity with a new generation of young Canadians.
On Saturday, October 20, the Filipino Association of Montreal and Suburbs (FAMAS) co-hosted a community forum with Arnel as the main speaker in the FAMAS Community Centre. Present were representatives from Filipino community organizations like the Federation of Filipino Associations of Quebec, NGO's like Development and Peace and social activists based in Montreal. This event was a first step for future collaboration between the well-established Filipino community organizations, the Centre for Philippine Concerns and other concerned organizations on issues such as the extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations happening in the Philippines.
Arnel is returning to the Philippines satisfied that he has gained concrete support from organizations in Montreal. Many of the people and organizations he had met gave their commitment to continue their links and raise financial support for the WAC, organize a Canadian Labour delegation to the Philippines, and lobby Canadian government to pressure the Arroyo administration to put a stop to the ongoing human rights violations in the Philippines.
More photos of Arnel's visit in Montreal
Public Service Alliance of Canada hosts Arnel
Bataille syndicale aux Philippines - article de CISO
Workers Assistance Centre