PH to sign OFW deal with Russia in April

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Bello (Rey Baniquet/Presidential Photo)

 

MANILA-The Philippines is set to sign a bilateral agreement with Russia early this year for the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

In an interview, Bello said the bilateral labor agreement will most likely be for the deployment of Filipino skilled workers.

“Most probably by March or April so that the weather won’t be too cold. We already have some (skilled workers) there,” Bello said.

The labor chief said the bilateral discussion was actually initiated by Russian labor officials.

“Like China, they are in need of laborers since they have an aging population,” he said.

Bello was referring to the bilateral agreement that the Philippines signed with China last year for the deployment of English teachers in the mainland.

Earlier, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) bared that Russia was eyeing a government- to-government deployment scheme with the Philippines.

Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev also disclosed that Russia was looking forward to employing more skilled and unskilled OFWs.

Bello first announced the possibility of a labor pact with Russia in May last year.

“Negotiations with the Russian Federation are ongoing and Russia is one of our alternative markets for our Filipino workers who still wish to be deployed overseas,” Bello said at the time.

“There is a demand for construction and household service workers in Russia,” he added.

Bello also created a technical working group (TWG) “to meet with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) counterparts in Russia to further discuss policies for the protection and welfare of Filipino workers.”

Also, the TWG was tasked with leading in the “orientation of Russian employers and recruitment agencies about Philippine laws governing OFWs.”

Bello appointed Labor Undersecretary Claro Arellano, in charge of legal and International affairs, as the head of the TWG while Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Bernard Olalia was named as his vice chair.

The TWG also included OWWA Administrator Hans Cacdac, and representatives from the International Labor Affairs Bureau, and the labor department’s Legal Service.

The POEA earlier warned Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong to be wary of job offers in Russia since there was still no bilateral labor agreement between Moscow and Manila.

Labor Attache Jalilo Dela Torre also said that around 5,000 OFWs, mostly from Hong Kong, were in dire straits in Russia after the jobs offers made to them turned out to be empty promises.

“There was really no job waiting for them there. The agencies that sent them were just recruiting,” Dela Torre said in an interview.

“So, the OFWs themselves had to look for a job when they got there,” he added.

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