Up to 600 Filipino health workers and supporters rallied outside the Daily Mail’s west London offices last Saturday, to defiant chants of “End racism now”.
They demanded the newspaper publicly apologise for publishing a feature headlined “NHS still hiring Filipino nurses” and “It’s not racist to worry about foreign nurses.”
The racist article came after nurse Victorino Chua was convicted of murdering two patients and poisoning 19 more.
The protest was the largest demonstration by Filipinos in Britain to date.
Protest organiser Tara told Socialist Worker, “When I saw the article, it was just a slap in the face.
“Yet the turnout here shows how many people are angry about it. And with numbers we have power, and with that we have the influence to change things.”
Health worker Alberto added, “It’s not usual for us Filipino health workers to protest and we normally try and keep our heads down. But we had to do something this time.”
Protesters were in a buoyant mood as they sang the radical Filipino song Bayan Ko.
Alberto explained, “When we had to live under the dictatorship we’d sing this on protests demanding our freedom.”
The protesters were mainly from London, but some supporters came from around Britain. Marie travelled up from Portsmouth.
She said, “I’m not a health worker. But I have so many friends and family working in the NHS—and it affects all of us as Filipinos.”
The Daily Mail’s article on Filipino nurses is part of a broader assault as the Tories ramp up racism and Islamophobia.
Part time NHS worker Olive said, “It is not fair how the Daily Mail labelled us, but they are attacking other groups too.
“They always attack migrants and label Muslims as terrorists.”
Unison union member Ray said, “The political parties are making immigration into the main issue.
“The Daily Mail is playing into that. But that’s why I’m in the union and here showing solidarity.”
Olive added, “We have to put an end to this.”
The attack also comes as the Tories push through more NHS privatisations and budget cuts.
Nurse Javy had come straight off her night shift—and was going to start another shift after the protest. She told Socialist Worker, “We’re very tired, but we had to be here.
“I’ve worked in the NHS for 15 years and it is very stretched right now, with workloads and stress all going up.
“The Daily Mail says it shouldn’t hire any more of us. But without us the NHS couldn’t survive.”
Antonia has worked for the NHS for 30 years. She said, “Where I work, there’s a Filipino nurse on every single ward. In 2000 I went back to the Philippines to recruit nurses.
“I recruited 30 and they’re all still working in the NHS.”
The NHS was built by migrant workers and wouldn’t run without them.
Antonia said, “We’re demanding a public apology—and won’t stop until we get one.”
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