MIGRANTE: Gov't Labor Day Job Fair to send OFWs to their deaths
In a press conference this morning in Quezon City, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were victims of contract violations and other labor malpractices in Taiwan, Qatar and Libya joined Migrante International in condemning the Philippine government for apparently ramping up its effort to promote overseas employment despite the growing number of cases illegal dismissals, piracy, trafficking, illegal recruitment and human rights violations among OFWs amid the biting global financial crisis.
"Our response to her gimmicks is the mass filing of illegal recruitment cases against concerned recruitment agencies. But more than this, there is one thing in common among all these cases: they are all POEA aprroved! Thus, POEA seems to be directly abetting criminal activities! Thus, we are also studying our options on how we can hold the POEA legally accountable for such injustice." Migrante Secretary General Gina Esguerra declared.
Migrante particularly scored the government who they said is currently "working triple time" to mount the biggest job fair in the country on Labor Day, "Jobapalooza '09". The group, however, noted that the job fair's aim is not to provide Filipinos with stable jobs here at home but with dubious jobs overseas.
"At the onset, the Arroyo regime has been a total failure in generating long term and sustainable jobs here in the country. It has been working triple time to promote overseas employment to cover up for this failure. For this regime, Filipinos are cheap commodities for export and it cares little if our compatriots are deployed to the most dirty, difficult, dangerous and degrading jobs and situations abroad," said Esguerra, noting that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has "gone so desperate" that it is even going directly to the Barangays to register jobseekers for the "Jobapalooza."
In short, the government is practically knocking door to door to send OFWs to precarious situations, some to their deaths overseas, with their job fairs," said Esguerra
Esguerra cited cases that prove why the government's labor export program is not the solution to the present crisis. She alluded to the case of 50 OFW victims from Libya and 16 from Qatar whose contracts were substituted and were subsequently dismissed from their jobs. Esguerra said contract substitution is a form of illegal recruitment.
She also cited the cases of.over 100 OFWs from Taiwan who after paying exorbitant placement fees ranging from Php 85, 000- 150,000 were illegally dismissed by their employers. She said this is a classic case of overcharging because according to RA 8042, allowed placement fees should only be equivalent to one month salary. "This is also a form of illegal recruitment," Esguerra said. And yet, all government has done is to offer a paltry loan assistance package that would push OFWs more deep in debt.
Esguerra slammed Arroyo's slated Labor Day Job Fair, which seems to be part of her hype for her stimulus package, as nothing but "a government sponsored flea market where people are the ones that are up for sale at rock bottom prices."
She said OFWs under Migrante's banner worldwide are set to march on Labor Day to highlight the fact why the Arroyo government is the "biggest illegal recruiter in the country." She said putting the lives of Filipino workers at risk by deploying them to hazardous situations is also a form of illegal recruitment according to RA 8042.###