Filipino workers beware
While in Manila for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit last month, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced the increasing number of opportunities for Filipino students to study in his country and the continuing demand for Filipino workers in the construction and healthcare industries. We hope Filipinos will be cautious when recruited by education agents who give false promises of an automatic pathway to residency in New Zealand.
Filipinos who are being recruited into New Zealand’s construction industry for the rebuilding of Christchurch must be careful with employers who take advantage of migrant workers through contract substitution, underpayment and other unfair labor practices. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) research found Filipino workers are most likely to be exploited as they fear losing their job or visa if they speak out. Many of them paid between $8,000 and $15,000 to a recruitment agent at home to secure a job in New Zealand. The MBIE research further noted that migrants in construction work are paid less than the minimum wage. The most common exploitative practices were the excessive amount of money charged by recruitment agencies in the Philippines and contract substitution.
In the dairy industry, over 1,000 Filipino migrant workers are now greatly distressed after they found their lives in “virtual suspension” in the dairy farms. Last October, New Zealand immigration arrested a dual Filipino/NZ national on fraud charges. This recruiter used false employer details and false documents on workers’ experience, asking huge fees from applicants wanting to work in New Zealand.
We hope Filipinos back home would be aware of this scam and be careful not to be victimized by recruiters who take advantage of their desperate need to find better jobs outside their country.
Like Mary Jane Veloso who was victimized by a heartless recruiter, the fate of the Filipino dairy workers in New Zealand, who were victimized by illegal recruiters, remains uncertain.
We seek justice for all exploited migrants in New Zealand and the many more, other Mary Janes around the world. Migrante Party List is hoping to win three seats in Congress to strengthen advocacy for scores of migrant workers in distress who hardly or belatedly receive government assistance as experienced by Mary Jane in over five long years that her case was pending. “Proteksyon, hindi koleksyon. Serbisyo, hindi negosyo” is Migrante’s urgent cry in the face of the dreaded “tanim-bala” modus operandi in the infamous Ninoy Aquino International Airport, on top of the unjust opening of balikbayan boxes, lack of legal assistance, excessive taxation and multiple burdens suffered by OFWs.
Our challenge to all the “presidentiables”: Create decent jobs, ensure decent pay, and reduce the taxes at home in order to end forced migration.
—CRISTOBAL ESPINOSA, coordinator, Migrante Dairy Farmers NZ; MELY FERIA, coordinator, Migrante Party List, firstname.lastname@example.org
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