Stricter DMW measures for workers’ protection

The newly-created Department of Migrant Workers will impose stricter measures to protect the rights and welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers, particularly domestic workers.

DMW Secretary Susan Ople, in an interview, said they will do their best to safeguard the rights and welfare of migrant workers.

“Safeguarding the rights and welfare of our migrant workers is at the heart of the DMW’s programs, services, and agreements. We will always strive to do our best amid so many challenges in the world we live in,” she said.

Ople added that when negotiating bilateral labor agreements with other countries, the DMW will be guided by the objectives outlined in the United Nations Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

She said, this will ensure a rights-based approach in the deployment of Filipino workers overseas.

Ople, a well-known migrant worker rights advocate, outlined some DMW initiatives to protect OFWs, particularly domestic workers:

*Performance review and assessment of licensed recruitment agencies and their foreign counterparts based on deployment numbers and the capacity to monitor and act on welfare cases;

*Issuance of country-specific employment contracts taking into account prevailing labor laws and migration policies as well as contents of bilateral labor agreements, if any, with labor-destination countries;

*Strict department guidelines to ensure that only qualified and fully trained domestic workers are deployed abroad;

*Mandatory viewing by all new employers of a video on OFW rights and welfare, before any employment contracts are signed;

*Creation of a White list of recruitment agencies and foreign recruitment agencies that have shown consistent and strict adherence to fair and ethical recruitment standards and principles, to guide OFWs and foreign employers; and

*Review and crafting of new verification guidelines by POLO to address gaps in the system and strengthen protection mechanisms for OFWs.

Blacklisted agencies

She bared that the department would begin publishing the names of foreign employers and recruitment agencies, both domestic and foreign, that have been blacklisted for recruitment and labor violations, including severe exploitation and abuse of OFWs.

One specific challenge, according to Ople, is the trafficking of migrant workers from one country of origin to the next.

OFWs in other countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, are being illegally recruited by Filipinos and other foreign agents to work in a third country, such as Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and even countries in Europe, such as Poland, Hungary and Romania, she said.

“We also appeal to our kababayans to be more discerning about such bogus offers, and to report illegal recruiters and human traffickers to the DMW,” Ople said.

She added that the UN General Assembly adopted the first-ever Global Compact on Migration “to emphasize cooperation among member states in protecting migrants, including all foreign workers,” in pushing for a rights-based approach to bilateral talks with host countries.

“Even countries where the sponsorship or ‘Kafala system’ is in place have signed this UN document, signifying their support for sound migration governance and humane treatment of migrant workers, including those in vulnerable occupations such as domestic work,” Ople said.

She cited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s support of the UN Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, which states that the protection of migrants and migrant workers is a shared responsibility among states.

With the exception of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Poland, and the United States, over 150 countries voted in favor of the UN Global Compact on Migration.

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