Belfast Telegraph

Filipinos 'suffer workplace racism'

A Filipino worker was tied to a chair by a racist colleague in Northern Ireland while another was locked in a freezer, a community representative has claimed.

The allegations emerged as new research found almost half of Filipinos living in the region say they have experienced racial harassment in the workplace.

Co-workers are the most common source of the abuse, with bosses and customers also guilty, the study of the local Filipino community found.

The number living in the region has increased greatly in the last decade, from around 300 in 2001 to an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 currently. Many have travelled to Northern Ireland to take up jobs in the health sector.

Filipino community representative Jason Braga, 36, who has lived in Northern Ireland for nine years, said some of his compatriots were frightened to report abuse in case it harmed their chances of staying in the country.

"I was told of a nurse being tied up in a chair and a hotel worker being locked up in a freezer," he said. "But these people did not want to give further details, they are scared."

The report by the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM), which was outlined at an event in Stormont, found workers from the Philippines are vulnerable to exploitation, particularly those working in the fishing industry.

The NICEM research also highlighted the many immigration difficulties encountered by Filipinos trying to settle across the UK, including limited access to social security and tight restrictions on bringing family members with them.

In the study of almost 150 adult Filipinos living in Northern Ireland, 42% said they had been racially harassed at work. Of those who alleged abuse, 48% said they had been targeted by a colleague, 44% by a customer and 33% by a manager.

As well as calling for changes to UKBA rules for gaining citizenship and work permits, the report calls for action to be taken by the Stormont administration to improve the situation of locally based Filipinos.

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