MANILA, Philippines ? More Filipino workers can work in South Korea under a renewed Employment Permit System (EPS) to be signed by the Philippines and South Korea next month, a labor official said.
The new government-to-government contract is nearly completed and is scheduled to be signed in late May, when the two countries mark the 60th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, Assistant Secretary Reydeluz Conferido said.
?South Korea is urging us to fast track the memorandum of understanding,? Conferido said at a news briefing. ?We are finalizing the form, but the substance of the agreement is finished.?
He said the new agreement had several improvements that could result in a bigger deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in South Korea.
He said labor department officials had asked South Korean partners to relax the language requirement and to vet carefully the companies that seek to employ OFWs to ensure they are financially sound and would not lay off workers.
The Philippines sends about 6,000 workers to South Korea annually under the mechanism, Conferido said. Under the new agreement, ?the number could rise,? he said.
The last agreement on the EPS was signed on 2006 and expired in October last year.
Conferido said the two governments would prioritize workers who were displaced here and in South Korea because of the global financial crisis.
He added that jobs needed by companies keen to participate in the program mostly involve janitorial work and manufacturing. Migrant workers who participated in the first EPS can apply with South Korean companies under the EPS again, Conferido said.
Aside from South Korean companies, a Canadian food and beverage firm has expressed interest in hiring more Filipino workers.
Conferido said officials of Canadian food chain Tim Hortons were impressed with the Filipinos' skills and were eager to hire them.