“We urge you to provide genuine service to our sector and stop taking advantage of the Immigration Department’s new policy to make money from OFWs.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Dolores Balladares, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK), reported this Thursday a problem of many Filipino domestic workers with the Philippine Consulate general and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office.
After some domestic workers were injured or killed in accidents while cleaning windows in high-rises of Hong Kong, the domestic workers there successfully campaigned for some security measures. This meant a change in their contract provisions.
But a growing number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are now complaining of what they call as a lack of foresight of the Philippine Consulate General and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in informing and helping them update their contract. “They already knew that the HK’s Immigration Department will not be processing old contracts anymore after January 27,” Balladares said in a statement. Yet, she said, the Philippine Consulate general through POLO processed their old contract without the needed changes even if these contracts will be submitted to HK Immigration Department after January 27.
As a result, the OFWs’ contracts are getting rejected by Hong Kong’s immigration department.
Balladares said many Filipino domestic workers only learned about the new required (blue) contract from HK Immigration Department when they submitted their old (green) employment contract which the POLO had duly processed. Forced to return to POLO to correct their papers, the OFWs found to their dismay that they had to pay POLO again for the processing.
This is double charging, Balladares said. One which the government labor officials in Hong Kong could have avoided if they had done their job, the domestic workers’ group said.
“Instead of making amends to the domestic workers for their failure to inform and guide the OFW accordingly, the POLO added misery for them when they required another processing fee for the blue color contract,” said Migrante.
On behalf of the domestic workers’ group in Hong Kong, Balladares called on the POLO officials to waive the processing fee of workers whose non-updated contracts were rejected by HK Immigration Department, and refund the payment of those they had asked to pay a second time.
“We urge you to provide genuine service to our sector and stop taking advantage of the Immigration Department’s new policy to make money from OFWs,” she concluded.
Hong Kong is frequently recorded as one of the top 10 destinations of overseas Filipinos. In 2015, the latest data in the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s website said more than 85 thousand OFWs went to Hong Kong, down 20 percent from more than 105 thousand OFWs deployed the previous year. More new hires came in.