China’s deal to hire 300,000 Filipinos finalised

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All the OFWs would be working in Beijing and Shanghai and three other major cities, official says

14 April 2018 |Barbara Mae Dacanay | Gulf Times

Manila: The Philippines and China have signed an agreement that lifts Beijing’s restriction on foreign workers and will soon pave the way for the employment of 300,000 Filipinos, including 100,000 English-medium teachers, Philippine Labour Secretary Bello III has said.

The top Philippine official and Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua signed a memorandum of understanding, which states that a Filipino teacher will be paid $1,500 (Dh6,500) a month, Bello told Gulf News on Saturday.

The agreement covers details such salaries and other benefits, work hours, terms of employment, and labour protection to prevent abuses, Bello said.

China’s labour ministry is also seeking to recruit Filipino cooks, caregivers, household service workers, musicians, and nurses, Bello said, adding that Chinese families could now afford to offer OFWs decent salaries.

He did not reveal the respective salary rates of the other categories of OFWs who would be hired in China.

“There is a big demand for English teachers in China. Chinese nationals want their children to speak English. They lack sufficient numbers of teachers who can speak English. Families want English-speaking maids who could tutor children with their studies. China also has a growing ageing population,” Bello said, adding all the OFWs would be working in Beijing and Shanghai and three other major cities.

Recruitment agencies were advised to include Chinese culture and norms in the training of workers who will work in the mainland; and to look thoroughly at the Chinese employers who want to employ OFWs.

Filipinos seeking employment in China must contact agencies accredited by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), which has a list of legitimate agencies with valid license on Facebook, Bello said.

The bilateral labour agreement between China and the Philippines was supposed to be signed in November 2017.

Many believe that China is not a traditional destination for OFWs. Officially listed are 12,254 OFWs in mainland China. But up to 200,000 OFWs have been working illegally in China, as of 2016. At the time, China had a strict work visa policy, Bello said.

He did not say if the Philippines-China bilateral labour agreement has a provision to legitimise the 200,000 illegal OFWs in China; or if China will allow OFWs in Hong Kong to seek employment in the mainland. There are 140,000 OFWs in Hong Kong, some of whom are teachers working as maids.

Labour unions in Hong Kong warned earlier that OFWs might transfer to the mainland because it has offered higher salary rates in all levels. Hong Kong could suffer severe shortage of English-speaking domestic Filipino helpers, labour leaders said.

The Philippines has been seeking bilateral agreements with all the countries where it sends OFWs — specially with receiving countries that have not signed International Labour Organisations’ labour conventions that spell out the rights of migrant workers for decent job.

The Philippines has forged only 13 bilateral labour agreements with receiving countries even if 10 million OFWs are based in 180 countries.

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