THE Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) is investigating two licensed recruitment agencies that deployed Filipino workers to Poland after it was reported that they were illegally collecting excessive placement fees from applicants.
POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia identified the agencies as Golden ICON Manpower Agency and PLJL Manpower Exporter Inc., both based in Ermita, Manila. Their accredited foreign recruitment agency (FRA) in Poland, HR Motives, is also being investigated.
“POEA has investigated the case, and once the complainants [submit] their affidavits to the POEA, we will start the process of [determining] recruitment violation,” Olalia told The Manila Times on Thursday.
According to the official, collecting placement fees beyond the amount allowed by his agency’s rules would result in the cancellation of the recruitment agencies’ license and the revocation of the FRA’s accreditation.
The investigation stems from a report from migration expert and overseas Filipino worker advocate Emmanuel Geslani that detailed the illegal activities of the three agencies.
According to the report, Filipino factory workers Doris Adriano, Ma. Vergel Nonato, Haidemer Adorable and Jayson Torres claimed they paid P270,000 as placement fee to Gold Icon for their employment in Poland.
Under POEA guidelines, they were only supposed to pay P8,000 each.
When the four workers arrived in Poland this year, they learned that HR Motives was actually a staffing agency that provides workers to certain clients. Thus, they received their salaries from HR Motives and not from the company they were sent to work to.
Also, the workers were receiving less than the minimum wage in Poland, which is 550 euros. A factory worker’s salary there is 1,600 euros monthly, or almost P100,000.
Geslani said Adriano and nine other workers had fled the accommodations of HR Motives and were looking for companies that would accept them, based on their working visas issued by the Polish Ministry of Immigration.
Workers recruited by PLJL Manpower Export also face the same problem.
Poland recently opened its labor market to workers from developing nations like the Philippines to fill up its manpower shortages in the manufacturing and agriculture sectors.
While Poland is regarded as an alternative work destination for OFWs, because it and the Philippines have a similar religious culture — both are devoutly Catholic — there are differences in Polish and Philippine labor laws that a bilateral labor agreement could address.