OFW may now rate recruiters

“It’s time to put power back into workers’ hands.

In light of OFW abuses that continue to this day, workers organizations and trade unions in the Philippines are set to launch a new web platform that will help keep migrant workers from abusive employment practices through user reviews of recruitment agencies.

About 3,000 Filipino workers leave the country daily in search of a better life and decent work. The recruitment process is crucial to reduce or to prevent abuses, including false promises, high fees, illegal deductions, fake jobs, lower wages and unsafe working conditions.

The Migrant Recruitment Advisor (MRA), developed by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in partnership with the International Labor Organization (ILO) Fair Recruitment initiative, lists thousands of agencies in Nepal, Philippines, Indonesia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries.

MRA, similar to the TripAdvisor, allows migrant workers to comment on their experiences, rate the recruitment agencies and learn about their rights.

65 repatriated from UAE
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday welcomed the arrival of 65 more distressed Filipinos from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Almost a thousand overseas Filipino workers (OFW) were sent home from the Gulf State since the start of the year due to the latest repatriation in the UAE.

DFA said the continuing assistance is in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s commitment that the welfare and well-being of Filipinos overseas “remains our foremost foreign policy.”

“We welcome home today another batch of 65 distressed Filipinos, mostly victims of illegal recruiters, from Abu Dhabi,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said.

Sec. Cayetano strongly condemned abuses experienced by the OFW in the hands of their recruiters or employers.

“When these abuses happen, the DFA can be expected to act decisively to protect our kababayan (fellow Filipinos) and bring them home,” Sec. Cayetano said.

DFA shouldered the cost of processing of exit passes, airfare to Manila and to the OFW’s home provinces. Also Cayetano expects the number of UAE returnees to rise significantly in the coming months due to its amnesty program.

According to Charge d’Affaires Rowena R. Pangilinan-Daquipil of the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi, a total of 969 Filipinos have now been repatriated from the said country since January — 777 stayed at the Embassy shelter, while 212 were walk-in client.

She however, assured that the Embassy will continue to work with UAE authorities to address the concerns of OFW, especially household workers (HHW).

“With the signing of the UAE Law for Domestic Workers and the Philippines-UAE Memorandum of Understanding on Labor Cooperation in 2017, the Embassy hopes that incidents of abuse, maltreatment, detention and other complaints will decline,” Daquipil said.

The UAE government, she added, has also implemented measures to advance the rights of Filipino HHW in the country.
According to embassy estimates, around 643,000 Filipinos live or work in the UAE, most of them in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Migrant workers’ rights
“Migration should be a choice. The ILO supports countries like the Philippines in protecting the welfare of migrant workers through fair recruitment and rights-based migration. The Migrant Recruitment Advisor (MRA) can help prospective Filipino migrant workers make informed decision or choice by going through online reviews,” says Khalid Hassan, director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.

Available in English and Filipino and soon in other languages, the platform features licensed recruitment agencies of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). Governments provided the list of licensed agencies and a network of trade unions and civil society organizations in all target countries. This ensures the sustainability of the platform by reaching out to workers and speaking to them about their rights.

The consortium of workers organizations in the Philippines include the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), Federation of Free Workers (FFW) and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).

MRA will promote recruiters who follow a fair recruitment process based on ILO General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment.

“Unscrupulous recruitment agencies take advantage of the lack of law enforcement by governments or because workers are simply not aware of their rights,” says ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. “It’s time to put power back into workers’ hands to rate the recruitment agencies and show whether their promises of jobs and wages are delivered.”

“Around 643,000 Filipinos live or work in the UAE.

The MRA was officially launched in the Philippines on 26 July 2018, after a series of regional consultations and launches held in Davao and Cebu.

Funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the ILO Fair Recruitment Initiative aims to reduce cases of recruitment violations, to develop innovative models and to create fair recruitment options for migrant workers. The MRA offers peer-to-peer reviews of recruitment agencies as intervention. With a report from Mina Diaz

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