Bilateral labor agreements with Switzerland and South Korea highlight DOLE’s thrust of OFW protection in 2014

Date Posted: December 27th, 2014 05:59 AM

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said at the DOLE’s 2014 Year-end Press Conference at the new Labor Governance Learning Center in Intramuros, Manila that the successful signing of two bilateral labor agreements this year, one with Switzerland and another with South Korea, highlighted the DOLE’s thrust of continually enhancing the welfare and protection of overseas Filipino workers. She lauded the DOLE’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB), headed by Director Saul de Vries, as well as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration headed by Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac, for the successful signing of the two bilateral labor agreements. “The two bilateral labor agreements are in harmony of the Department’s mandate of protecting and promoting overseas workers’ welfare here and abroad and brings the number of BLAs signed under the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III to 14,” Baldoz said. The Philippines, between 2010 and 2014, has signed BLAs with Jordan, Canada (Manitoba), Taiwan, Korea, Lebanon, Kuwait, Canada (British Columbia), Germany, Saudi Arabia, Canada (Saskatchewan), Papua New Guinea, Korea, and Switzerland. The two bilateral labor agreements are the Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Labor and Employment of the Republic of the Philippines and the Ministry of Employment and Labor of the Republic of Korea on the Receiving of Workers to the Republic of Korea under the Employment Permit System and the Guidelines on the Documentation and the Deployment of Filipino Trainees (Young Professionals/Stagiaires) from the Philippines under the Philippine-Swiss Agreement on the Exchange of Professional Trainees. “Two bilateral labor agreements in a year demonstrates the DOLE’s productivity in working hand-in-hand with foreign governments in promoting overseas workers’ rights, as well as the rights of those desiring to pursue overseas careers,” said Baldoz. The first of the two BLAs, the MOU between the DOLE and the Ministry of Employment of Korea, aims to sustain the concrete framework between the DOLE and the Korean Ministry of Labor in enhancing transparency and efficiency in the process of sending and receiving Filipino workers under the Employment Permit System (EPS) in Korea. Among the features of the MOU is the transparency and mutuality of the funds and fee to be collected by the DOLE through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) from overseas workers-applicants. These fees included EPS-TOPIK application fee, including medical examination fee and, upon signing of employment contract, re-medical examination fee, pre-departure education cost fee, on-site fees like return cost insurance and casualty insurance, processing fees, and other fees like visa fee, POEA, OWWA, PhilHealth, and PAG-IBIG contributions. These fees, under the agreement, are subject to the joint review of the POEA and the Korean Ministry of Labor, for reduction or inclusion of other fees that may be deemed necessary. “In upholding accountability and transparency in every program of the DOLE, these fees are subject to the usual auditing and accounting regulations and will be announced by POEA,” Baldoz assured. The EPS also implements the EPS-TOPIK and Skills Tests, a paper-based or computer-based test for selecting of job seekers under the Foreign Employment Act of Korea. The Korean Ministry of Labor has designated the HRD-Korea for the implementation of these. It is tasked to assure objective selection of jobseekers. Skills test may also be conducted, if necessary, as when employers desire additional information about workers-applicant. The second BLA, the MOU between the DOLE and the Swiss government, aims to allow professionals from the Philippines and Switzerland to travel to the two countries for 18 months to acquire new professional experience and perspective, with the added value of acquiring insight into language and culture of the said countries. Under the guidelines Filipinos desiring to train and work in Switzerland who are 18 to 35 years of age and have completed secondary or tertiary education must first find an employer. The employment arrangement will involve a signed prescribed standard employment contract, which should include the following provisions: (a) type of employment; (b) 18-month employment duration; (c) salary, trial period, and period of notice; (d) working hours and holiday entitlement; (e) health and accident insurance; and (f) information who is to shoulder the trainee’s travel expenses. The employment contract is subject to the review and approval of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). Once approved, the POEA will issue the exit clearance for the trainee’s departure. The Swiss Embassy in Manila will issue the visa to trainees after their documents have been approved and endorsed by the Federal Office for Migration (FOM). The FOM, in this regard, is tasked to notify the POEA of its approved visa applications and will provide the Administration copy of the FOM-stamped employment contract between the employer and the worker trainee. “With the full operationalization of these Agreements, another pathway for continued foreign partnership on migration and human resource development is strengthened. Korea and Switzerland can always count on the Philippines’s support on their advocacy towards making international migration safer and beneficial to development,” she said. END/jda

Created Jan 5th 2015, 13:34


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