February 8, 2008

POEA Memorandum Circular No. 4

POEA Memorandum Circular No. 04, which sets the Guidelines on Direct Hiring of Filipino Workers was greeted with a protest by Migrant workers and militant Bayan Muna in Congress:

“A cursory reading of MC #04 would reveal that this is a set of ‘Guidelines on Direct Hiring of Filipino Workers’ from the office of POEA Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz. Some parts of the memo show the some of the methods of government exactions on OFWs such as the ‘performance bond’ and ‘repatriation bond,’” Casiño said.

Among the controversial points of the memo are the requisites for two OFW categories: the Skilled Category and Household Service Workers. These types of OFWs are required to get a Certificate of Worker Coverage under a ‘repatriation bond’ worth US$5,000 or its peso equivalent. The memo states that the OFW will not be made to pay this amount as these would be charged to the employers.

“Although the 4-page memo states that the OFW will not shell out anything, OFWs will still foot these amounts as their employers will pass it on to them by underpayment or salary deductions. Concrete examples are what employers do when they are made to pay the OFW’s US$100 POEA processing fee. The memo also does not state where and how these new fees will be spent by the government. This is apparently another hocus-pocus revenue generation scheme by the Arroyo administration at the expense of OFWs and their families. It must also be noted that MC 04 is a blanket policy on all OFWs in all countries,” Casiño said.[Bayan Muna]

Filipino Workers in Hong Kong even formed a coalition against the said circular

SIXTY-five OFW groups representing more than 130,000 Filipinos toiling in Hong Kong as domestics and professionals have formed a coalition calling on the government to rescind a memorandum requiring foreign employers to pay $8,000 in fees to directly hire Filipino workers.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration requires foreign employers seeking to hire OFWs to pay a $5,000 repatriation bond to guarantee the repatriation of the worker or of his remains in the event of death, and a $3,000 performance bond to guarantee payment of salaries.

The new coalition is called SKRAP MC-04, or Samahan Laban sa Katiwalin ng mga Recruitment Agencies at Patakarang MC-04 (Society against Abuses of Recruitment Agencies and the MC-04 Policy).[Tonyocruz.com/Malaya]

Here's an interesting update.

The Labor department will revise the guidelines on direct hiring by foreign employers following strong objections from overseas Filipino workers.

Italy, Hong Kong and Canada will be exempted from the payment of the $5,000 repatriation bond and $3,000 performance bond requirement on foreign employers, according to Labor Secretary Arturo Brion.

The decision to revise Memorandum Circular No. 4 was arrived at during a meeting of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) governing board on Friday.[GMANews.TV]

This is one big victory for the Filipino Migrant Workers! But the struggle continues...