THE Philippines and New Zealand signed a landmark labor cooperation agreement implementing a zero placement fee, protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) among others, while working in the said foreign country.
Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and her counterpart New Zealand Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Michel Woodhouse signed the agreement early this week in the course of the former’s official mission to New Zealand.
The document “Arrangement on the Principles and Controls on the Recruitment and Protection of Filipino workers in New Zealand” will govern the deployment of skilled and professional Filipino migrant workers to New Zealand.
Baldoz said the new agreement maintains the intention of the “Memorandum of Agreement on Labor Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of New Zealand,” which the two countries signed on November 4, 2008.
“Two countries working together to eliminate costly job placement and other recruitment-related fees, illegal recruitment and human trafficking, document fraud and fake training and qualifications credentials will make a strong case for a model bilateral arrangement for other sending and receiving countries to emulate,” she said.
“We must work together to weed out illegal recruiters who exact illegal recruitment fees and other exactions from OFW applicants to New Zealand and see to it that our no-placement fee policy for the New Zealand labor market is stromgu ad effectively enforced,” Baldoz added.
She explained that the new agreement also details the cooperation priorities of the two countries, such as promoting transparent, ethical, and equitable recruitment and employment practices consistent with the Philippine Labor Code and other labor-related laws.
Aside from non-payment of recruitment and placement fees, the agreement also ensures that the terms and conditions offered reflect their actual terms and conditions; ensure that OFWs are made aware of their immigration and employment rights; facilitate linkages between employers and recruitment agencies; and ensure assistance in the maintenance of the law, including the prevention, investigation, and detection of offenses in either the Philippines or New Zealand.
There are close to 40,000 Filipinos in New Zealand. Around 23,682 of them are permanent migrants, 9,444 temporary workers, and 1,024 irregular workers.
The POEA has recorded an increasing number of OFWs to New Zealand, with 1,638 new hires deployed in 2014.
OFWs in New Zealand are mostly production workers (66 percent); agriculture and animal husbandry workers (17 percent); professionals (4 percent); administrative and managerial workers (5 percent); service workers (5 percent), and the rest are either sales or clerical workers.