Filipinos losing jobs in South Korea rise

Published by rudy Date posted on February 19, 2009

A rising number of Filipinos are reportedly among the thousands of workers being laid off in South Korea because of the global financial crunch, an embassy report said yesterday.

Philippine Ambassador to Korea Luis Cruz said that as of February 2009, the embassy has handled 12 cases of Filipino workers losing their jobs, although “several more may have gone unreported.”

Approximately 46,000 Filipinos live in South Korea, many of whom are employed in small- and medium-scale enterprises.

“We have been receiving a number of reports from the Filipino community about workers losing their jobs because of the current economic crisis,” Cruz said.

With the onset of the financial meltdown, Seoul has been bracing itself for the loss of as much as 200,000 jobs this year amid predictions of a 2 percent contraction in the economy.

But Cruz said the embassy is prepared for massive job losses that would affect Filipino workers.

“In response to their needs, we launched several programs aimed at ensuring their welfare and minimizing the impact of retrenchment,” Cruz said.

He said one of the immediate responses taken by the embassy, through its Philippine Overseas Labor Office, was to invite a team from Manila specializing in “Reintegration Service” — providing skills training, livelihood orientation to displaced workers, and referrals for employment in other viable companies both in the Philippines and abroad.

The team, which is composed of POEA Director Felixberta Romero, NCRO Labor Attaché Alice Santos, OWWA Director Eduardo Bellido, and Tesda Director Merlita Dalire, is making the rounds in areas with a large concentration of Filipinos to assist those directly affected by the economic crisis. The team has been conducting one-on-one and group sessions in Seoul, Incheon, Ansan and Busan.

The team provided counseling services, certificates for free training, and information materials about job opportunities in Canada to 103 Filipinos during its first two days in Seoul.

Apart from this initiative, Cruz said the Human Resources Development Services of Korea’s Ministry of Labor joined the Philippine Team during the Filipino Community Leaders’ Forum last Feb. 14 to present the Korean Government’s returnees support program.

“HRD Director Kim Hui-sun disclosed that the program will offer skills upgrading classes to OFWs in Seoul and Incheon starting April 2009. It will also provide referral services to Korean companies based in Manila,” Cruz said.

To complement the mission of the reintegration team, the embassy will also launch a special course on financial management beginning this month, the envoy said.

The course will run for four consecutive weekends and delve on topics such as bookkeeping, entrepreneurship and feasibility studies. Open to all Filipinos in South Korea, the course is an offshoot of the embassy’s financial education campaign, which has so far benefited more than 500 participants in 13 seminars since the campaign was launched in March 2008.

Cruz said the embassy is also in talks with the Central Bank of the Philippines for a possible program on migrant worker-centered financial services this year. –Michaela del Callar, Daily Tribune

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