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POEA swamped with applicants for Korea PDF Print E-mail
Jan 26, 2006 at 05:12 PM

by Alfredo G. Rosario
from The Manila Times

Since the Department of Labor and Employment announced that it has signed a government-to-government agreement with South Korea on the employment of Filipino workers, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration has been swamped with over 200,000 applicants from all over the country.

Why not? The salary offered by the South Korean government is tempting: a minimum of $700 monthly, which can go up to $1,000, including overtime pay. And the employment contract allows the worker to stay up to three years.

Because the standard contract prepared by the POEA is approved by Korea’s Ministry of Labor, a worker is well protected by its labor laws. Benefits accruing to native workers will also be given to Filipino workers.

The POEA has two divisions involved in the Korean deployment program which operate under the so-called Employment Permit System. One is the preemployment unit, which accepts and processes all applications, and the other is the body that prepares all the documents for the deployment of selected workers.

A selected worker has to pay P27,000, representing POEA processing fees and the cost of a one-way air ticket to Korea.

The POEA requires job applicants to submit the basic documents, which include their biodata, stating their particular skills, and supported with certifications of their previous employment. They are also required to submit their high school diploma and certifications of their physical and mental fitness from accredited POEA clinics.

The preemployment division processes the applications and notifies preselected workers to ask them to undergo a Korean language proficiency test. Test dates, content of the proficiency test and the influence of the test scores on the selection are determined by the Korean labor ministry.

Test centers in Metro manila are accredited by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).

The labor agreement calls for Filipinos to work in Korea’s industries, particularly in the manufacturing and construction sectors. The Korean government will give preferential treatment to Filipinos who had worked illegally in that country but who voluntarily left for the Philippines by the end of February 2004.

POEA Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz said that no private recruiters are involved in the deployment program and advised applicants to deal directly with the government agency. She reported cases in which recruiters collected an average of P100,000 from applicants on the claim that they had worked for the approval of their applications. The truth, she said, is that these recruiters were never seen in the POEA premises.

The Korean labor agreement has saved thousands of job applications from paying exorbitant placement fees as high as P200,000 to land a job in Korea. Since the beginning of this year, the POEA has already deployed over 7,000 workers in Korea.

How can the POEA cope with the processing of 200,000 job applications? The agency has built a computer infrastructure in consultation with Korea’s labor ministry to facilitate the sending of the roster of jobseekers, help in the signing of labor contracts and protect the personal information of workers and employers.

The Philippine government, through the labor department and the POEA, has signed special labor agreement also with Japan and Taiwan. These agreements have specified only the POEA as the agency that can accept and process job applications without the involvement of fee-charging recruitment firms.

Overseas Filipino workers applying for jobs in Japan and Taiwan are spared from paying excessive fees ranging from P100,000 to P200,000. Why do they have to pay this much? Because local recruiters have to share the fees with the job brokers in the labor-receiving countries. Otherwise, they could not get the job orders.

We encourage the labor department to negotiate similar agreements with other countries, especially in the Middle East, Europe, Canada and other labor-short nations.

It should negotiate from a position of strength to be able to obtain better terms and conditions for the benefit of our workers.

For instance, it should pass on to the receiving country the burden of paying for the air tickets of our workers.

Last Updated ( Jun 10, 2006 at 05:27 PM )


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