PH maids in HK seek direct hiring as recruitment agencies demand placement fees

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06:45 PM February 26th, 2013

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By: Tina G. Santos, February 26th, 2013 06:45 PM

MANILA, Philippines—Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong want the Philippine government to lift the ban on the direct hiring of Filipino domestic workers abroad.

According to a statement from the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil), Filipino household service workers in the territory will troop Wednesday, to the Philippine Consulate General to express their demand.

The United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil-Migrante-HK), the organization leading the picket protest, stated that returning the direct hiring as an option to remove a threat to the livelihood of Filipino domestic workers, especially those processing their papers now.

This demand by Filipino domestic workers comes at a time when recruitment agencies from Hong Kong and the Philippines are fighting over the placement fees being charged to the Filipino domestic workers.

According to Unifil, the Philippines-based recruitment agencies want the Philippine government to allow them to charge the workers placement fees while letting the Hong Kong-based agencies to determine fees on their own.

“In the middle of this still-unresolved ‘brawl,’ Filipino domestic workers are being wrongfully blamed and used as scapegoats by agencies, especially those based in HK. Such baseless accusations are only fodder for the anti-migrant sentiments being fanned by many entities in Hong Kong,” it added.

Recently, the Society of Hong Kong Accredited Recruiters of the Philippines (SHARP), the Philippines-based agencies, imposed a moratorium on sending domestic workers to Hong Kong as it complained of the overly strict and unreasonable government regulations.

SHARP said that its move to declare a moratorium on the hiring and placement of household service workers (HSW) to Hong Kong, was aimed at “addressing the problems besetting the labor market and enhancing the protection and welfare of our workers.”

“In Hong Kong, our main and critical problem is the very high cost of recruitment. We cannot totally dispense with it because the prevailing market condition does not allow us to do so,” SHARP said.

It explained that for the past 30 years, Hong Kong employers have not been paying the total recruitment and deployment costs as they should.

“This is a market reality. In fact, many of our counterpart recruitment agencies in the territory have been very vocal in their complaint that employers are paying them less and less, forcing them to pass on some of the costs of doing business to migrant workers,” it added.

But according to Unifil, the claims of SHARP are but empty rhetoric only meant to cover up of the crimes committed by recruiters against OFWs, and self-serving demands to ensure profits for the recruitment agencies.

“Even before the implementation of the POEA Guidelines on Hiring of Filipino HSWs in 2006, recruitment agencies have perfected various modus operandi to exact the highest fee from applying OFWs,” the OFW group said.

After the ‘no placement fee’ provision was put in place, private recruiters circumvented the order by capitalizing on the training and certification requirements to charge the same – if not even more – fees to Filipino domestic workers, it added.

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