Filipinos in S. Korea Oppose Proposal to Charge Foreign Workers for Food, Lodging

Overseas Filipinos in South Korea opposed a proposal to charge foreign workers the cost of food and lodging currently given free by employers of small- and medium-scale enterprises.

BY BULATLAT
MIGRANT WATCH

Overseas Filipinos in South Korea opposed a proposal to charge foreign workers the cost of food and lodging currently given free by employers of small- and medium-scale enterprises.

In a statement sent to Bulatlat, Pol Par, chairperson of the Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Migranteng Manggagawa sa Korea (KASAMMAKO) said that once the proposal becomes part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of the Employment Permit System, Filipino migrant workers’ salaries and benefits would shrink further and thus, would be inadequate to support their families back home.

The proposal is being pushed by the Ministry of Labor of the Korean government in exchange for the reduction in the cost of Korean language courses being required to be taken by migrant workers seeking jobs in South Korea. Jenifer Jardin Manalili administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) said that when the new MOU is signed by both countries, the proposal to charge migrant workers for food and lodging costs would reduce the language fee from $30 to $17.

The KASAMMAKO said that at present, the minimum wage in South Korea is only 800,000 won or approximately $570. If the cost of food, board and other taxes amounting to 300,000 won (US$214) is charged on migrant workers’ wages, what would remain is a measly 500,000 won (US$357). Thus, OFWs would be able to remit to their families a mere P16,500 at the current US Dollar-Philippine peso exchange rate.

Par said, “This proposal reflects the political stance of the Arroyo government regarding the plight of migrant workers—sheer indifference, subservience to foreign governments and the utter inutility to address the economic situation in the Philippines. In view of this, we deplore the strategy used by both the Philippine and Korean governments of making the migrant workers as the economic shock absorbers of the neo-liberal economic crisis. Why are migrant workers always the scapegoat of the crisis that they are not responsible for?”

The KASAMMAKO, along with the Filipino Employment Permit System (EPS) Workers Association (FEWA) and other Filipino organizations in South Korea called on the Philippine government to junk the proposal. (Bulatlat.com)

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