Jobs await Pinoys in Korea, Canada

Published by rudy Date posted on March 22, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of jobs await Filipino workers in South Korea and Canada, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported yesterday.

Labor Assistant Secretary Reydeluz Conferido said the Philippine and Korean governments are forging a new agreement for the hiring of more than 6,000 Filipino factory workers in Korea.

He said they are finalizing details for the signing of the new employment permit system accord.

“The substance is basically concluded and we are just arranging the time for the signing of the new Employment Permit System (EPS) agreement. Probably by May the signing can already push through,” Conferido said.

Conferido also reported that employers in Canada, including the owners of the biggest food chain there, have expressed their desire to hire more Filipino workers.

“Timhortons, among the biggest food chains in Canada, is set to open new restaurants, including five in the United States and they want to hire Filipino waiters. We just don’t know yet how many,” he said.

The labor official added that Canadian employers are also planning to hire more foreign workers in preparation for the coming Winter Olympics there.

In the case of the new EPS agreement with South Korea, Conferido said they have already identified the problem and “included a provision that would prevent the numerous pre-departure cancellations of deployment in the past.”

At this time, Conferido said, Philippine labor officials are also working with the government of South Korea for a new policy that allows returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) not to have to repeatedly undergo the mandatory Korean Language Test.

“OFWs are required to take the Korean Language Test every time they return to Korea to work, but right now we are pushing for an amendment that would prevent multiple language testing for those who have already passed the examination,” Conferido said.

He also noted that a team of labor officials went to Korea recently to discuss the possibility of employing Filipino English teachers, construction and other workers.

Aid for displaced workers

Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has urged the government to set up a “displacement assistance fund” for more than 40,000 workers who lost their jobs locally due to the global economic crisis.

TUCP spokesman Alex Aguilar said job opportunities might be elusive for workers in these trying times, hence the need for the government to support them for the time being.

“We are proposing that they be given monthly assistance in the form of cash that is equivalent to the prevailing minimum wage set by the wage board in their region for six months or until they find a new job,” Aguilar said in an interview.

More than 40,000 local employees and some 5,000 migrant workers have reportedly been displaced due to the economic slowdown.

Aguilar said that if the daily minimum wage of P382 in Metro Manila would be the basis, the government would only have to produce some P2.5 billion for the program.

“It could be less than that because the minimum salary in other parts of the country is smaller… If you have the political will, you can easily produce that amount,” he added.

But the government, he said, should still continue the training and re-training program for displaced workers to prepare them for their next employment.

“I think it will be better if the workers can try other industries. If the garment sector is affected, maybe they can try other sectors,” Aguilar added.

The TUCP wants the fund to be taken either from a supplemental budget to be approved by Congress or from President’s Arroyo’s social fund.

The TUCP is opposed to the possibility of getting the budget from the pension fund of the Social Security System.

“I think more people will be displaced because of the crisis so we have to find ways to help them now,” Aguilar said. – Mayen Jaymalin with Sheila Crisostomo, Philippine Star

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