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Friday, December 12, 2008

Retrogression Update: RP workers face layoffs in US, but . . .

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Written by Estrella Torres / Reporter
Thursday, 11 December 2008 00:23

AN official of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said an estimated 130,000 temporary Filipino workers in the US, mostly in the manufacturing, shipping and domestic services, face job losses due to the global financial crunch.

But Japan is set to open its borders to Filipino nurses and caregivers as the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement takes effect on December 11, officials said. The first 500 Filipino health workers to Japan are set to be deployed by April next year, according to a labor attaché.

Labor Assistant Secretary Ma. Teresa Soriano said temporary workers holding seasonal working visas like the H-2B to the United States are the ones likely to be affected by the financial crisis that originated in the US.

Figures from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration showed there are 128,910 temporary Filipino workers in the US, mostly deployed in factories, shipping as well as in hotels and casinos.

Seafarers in cruise and cargo ships are also set to be affected by the global financial crunch, according to the labor official; there are 47,782 Filipinos in cruise ships and 10,754 in general cargo ships worldwide.

Filipino workers in the manufacturing sector in South Korea, Taiwan and Macau also face threats of job losses due to the global financial crisis. “While some domestic helpers would be safe, those in certain countries may be affected,” said Soriano. She added that Filipino household service workers in Singapore, Macau and Hong Kong, whose employers are active players in the financial industry, may be also be affected.

Philippine Labor Attaché to Japan Danilo Cruz said, meanwhile, that the Japan-Philippines trade deal will benefit the country in terms of providing jobs to nurses and caregivers. But the guidelines in hiring there are yet to be finalized by the two parties.

“We are still discussing it and it may be signed within this month,” said Cruz. He said that Japan is expected to absorb the first 200 Filipino nurses and 300 Filipino caregivers by April 2009.

He said the POEA has yet to issue the guidelines on deployment. “No private recruitment agency will be involved here,” he said.

Cruz said Japan may be one of the rich economies hit by the global recession but with the lingering shortage of medical workers there, Filipino nurses and caregivers are very much needed.

Soriano meanwhile said that new markets like France, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Guam can be explored by Filipino workers who may lose jobs in the US and other countries. The Philippines is the world’s third largest source of migrant workers, next with India and China. There are around 8.2 million Filipino workers deployed around the world.

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