Article posted January 16, 2009 – 02:50 PM
ofwsMANILA, Philippines – A recruitment industry leader on Friday urged the Philippine government to junk a memorandum of agreement on employment it signed with South Korea, saying it is favors Korean employers and violates the rights of Filipino workers.

Recruitment consultant Emmanuel Geslani in a statement said that Filipino workers have not benefited from the employment permit system (EPS) under the agreement.

He said workers hired under the system have been dissatisfied with work conditions and abused by their Korean employers.

He said more than 17,000 Filipino workers were sent to Korea through the EPS and up to 5,000 workers have returned to the Philippines even before their 3-year contracts expired.

The deployment deal was extended last November for three months while talks for its renewal were being settled.

With the extension, Korea will continue to follow the EPS, a government-to-government recruitment system implemented by both countries since 2004 that was supposed to correct the exorbitant mobilization costs charged by recruitment companies and their brokers in South Korea.

With the abolition of the trainee scheme in 2007, Korean employers can only get foreign workers through the system, with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) as the only government agency authorized to implement the scheme in the Philippines.

Geslani said that under the EPS, deployment to Korea fell by 40 percent in 2007 due to high numbers of runaways and complaints filed with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office.

korea-kunsanFilipino workers chose to leave their employers because they were either not paid or not paid enough, were forced to live in uninhabitable accommodations, got intro misunderstandings with their Korean employers because of deviations in the contract, and were verbally and physically abused, he said.

Moreover, he said that ever since the POEA took over the deployment of workers to Korea, the private sector has been deprived of legitimate business in sending trainee workers there.

Geslani also noted that under the new memorandum of agreement being proposed by the Korean Ministry of Labor, the cost of the Korean Language Test would be reduced from $30 USD or more than P1,400 to $17 or about P800.

But this will be done in exchange for charging the cost of food and accommodation to the workers.

“This would further reduce OFW earnings from the $700 or more than P30,000 stipulated salary to $350 or almost P17,000 and further add more woes to the worker (since) the Korean won has lost its value since last year, thus the $700 salary is only valued at $570 or almost P27,000,” said Geslani in the statement.

He said that if this were to continue, more Filipino workers might join the 30,000 undocumented OFWs now working illegally in Korea who reportedly receive higher salaries and better working conditions.

South Korea implements the EPS with Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Cambodia, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan. – GMANews.TV
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