New Internationalist Article on Diego Garcia
In this long read web-exclusive for New Internationalist, long-time Chagossian supporter Katie McQue focuses on the hitherto untold story of the unjust treatment of Filipino contract workers on
the US military base on Diego Garcia, the largest island in the Chagos
Throughout the piece Ms McQue references the ongoing fight of the Chagossian people to win justice following their cruel deportation and neglect in exile.
It turns out that Diego Garcia isn’t just the site of the brutal
expulsion of its indigenous islanders in 1960/70s, it also
has an ongoing history of underpaying, overworking and abusing the
employment rights of its non-military manual workers who service the base in
cleaning, caretaking and construction jobs.
Through interviews with anonymous workers, gathered over a 2 year
investigation, McQue reveals that some workers have been earning around US$2
an hour for working a minimum of 9 hours per day, 6 days a week.
This is because, even though they work in a US dollar-based economy, salaries are
indexed to the volatile Philippino peso – meaning a 44% decrease. As
unemployment is high in the Philippines, there is a ready supply of people
desperate to work for lower wages on isolated islands far from their families. A
big proportion of these wages will then be sent home to support wives and
Furthermore when it comes to injuries and accidents to the manual workers in
the course of their work, they are not compensated according to prevailing wage
rates and compensation for similar circumstances in UK/USA but according to
the lower rate of the Philippines – a clear breach of just and reasonable pay