By Leslie Ann G. Aquino
Verification of the place of work and the actual employer.
This was one of the recommendations of a labor official on how to further protect Filipino workers especially in Kuwait.
“The verification of the place of work and the actual employer is being proposed. Because we would like to make sure the employer named in the contract is actually the employer…they would be handed to the actual employer,” DOLE Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad said in an interview.
“That is one measure to protect because we have experienced that our workers end up in a different place and a different employer. And if that happens our ability to track them and assist them in case of problems will be diminished. So we would like to make sure that they are actually deployed to the place named in the contract and the employer named in the contract,” he added.
To recall, Lagunzad and a team of senior government officials recently went to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to assess the situation of Filipino workers there and to recommend actions to deal with their situation.
He said the issue on visa trading was also included in the recommendation.
“We observed when we were in Kuwait that this visa trading has resulted to the untrackable problem. Transferring from one employer to another,” said Lagunzad.
“We will negotiate that before worker permits are issued when there is a transfer, the contracts will be verified by the POLO (Philippine Overseas Labor Office) and that the worker would have to appear before the POLO to confirm her acceptance of the transfer. The POLO will also verify the terms and conditions of the new contract. And we will also ask for a written consent of the original employer,” he added.
Lagunzad said they are also proposing qualifying employers.
“We would like to check their capacity and even their character. But this can be…if we are allowed eventually, we would like to set certain income levels. Also we will also check if there will be a national clearance equivalent to an NBI clearance so that we will be sure that the employers will not be criminal. So we would like a hand in selecting and evaluating the potential employers,” he said.
In turn, Lagunzad said the Philippines would offer workers that are qualified, who are trained in handling equipment, who have the communication facility and the ability to solve problem.
“We have observed that part of the tension and the conflict would happen when our workers are unable to operate the equipment. Unable to communicate and solve problems. That is what we would like to offer for allowing us to select, and screen the potential employer. That is another measure that we hope to be in place,” he said.
These are just some of the proposals of Lagunzad’s team to the Philippine officials who will commence negotiations with the Kuwait counterparts on Friday.