Agencies threaten to stop OFW hiring

Labatt Manuel Roldan

RECRUITERS are threatening to stop sending domestic workers to Hong Kong if the zero placement fee policy of the Philippine government is not abolished.
Labor Attache Manuel Roldan said this was the sentiment of the Society of Hong Kong Accredited Recruitment Agencies of the Philippines (SHARP) who met with Filipino community leaders in Hong Kong earlier this month.
“It was an informal discussion where the agencies expressed their desire na tapusin na talaga ang issue on placement fees, arguing they cannot survive without placement fees,” Roldan told Hong Kong News.
SHARP President Alfredo Palmiery, who represented his member-agencies, also laid out two options to resolve the issue: to request the Philippine government to scrap the no-placement-fee policy and restore the existing one-month placement fee policy; or if the Philippine government doesn’t do anything, hold a moratorium on the deployment of Filipino domestic workers to Hong Kong.
The Labor Attache said that according to SHARP, 30 out of 46 agencies recently shut down by the POEA were deploying workers to Hong Kong.
Roldan said Filipino community leaders “listened” to the concerns of the agencies, and said they will consult with the Filipino community regarding SHARP’s proposals.
“There were no assurances, pag-aaralan pa ng leaders ito. Exploratory pa lang, no decisions made yet, no commitments but everyone was very cordial,” Roldan said.
Worker groups in Hong Kong have long opposed collection of excessive agency fees by recruiters.
The Department of Labor and Employment authorizes recruitment agencies to collect from their hired workers “an amount equivalent to one month salary, exclusive of documentation and processing costs.”
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Rules and Regulations prohibit “charging or accepting directly or indirectly any amount greater than that specified in the schedule of allowable fees prescribed by the Secretary, or making a worker pay any amount greater than that actually received by him as a loan or advance.”

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