MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Department of Labor and Employment seeks to reduce the estimated 8,000 overstaying overseas Filipino workers in South Korea so that it could increase its deployment in the north Asian country through its Employment Permit System (EPS).
In a news release, DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said South Korea’s annual quota for foreign workers under its EPS is decided by its Foreign Workers Policy Committee with due consideration on the number of overstaying workers, as well as labor market trends, level of labor shortages, and economic condition.
In 2014, Baldoz said she will aggressively address the issue of illegally staying EPS Filipino workers in South Korea.
“We have to show we are serious in reducing the number of the estimated 8,247 EPS workers illegally staying in South Korea if we wish to have our quota increased,” she said.
Baldoz thus instructed Philippine Overseas Employment Administration head Hans Leo J. Cacdac to initiate disciplinary action against overstaying OFWs covered by the government-to-government arrangement with the POEA as the sending agency.
She also ordered the strict monitoring of contracts by the POEA and for the Philippine Overseas Labor Office to sustain its on-site campaign and education program.
“The POEA rules and regulations has provision on disciplining OFWs, and the POEA itself should show that if it can discipline OFWs deployed by licensed private recruitment agencies, the more it should show that it can, as sending agency, discipline errant workers,” she said.
At the same time, Baldoz instructed Labor Attache to South Korea Felicitas Bay to coordinate and link with the Human Resource Development Service and Ministry of Labor of South Korea on measures to ensure that Filipino workers under the EPS leave South Korea at the end of their contracts.
“You also have to intensify your active campaign for voluntary return of workers to the Philippines and your financial literacy and reintegration preparedness programs because these will be good for them and for other workers wishing to work in South Korea,” she said, observing that returning EPS workers get extended work contracts of four years and 10 months if they stay with their South Korean employers all throughout the duration of their contracts. They are also exempted from the Korean language test and job training course, and are not subject to the age limitation of 38 years old.
According to Labor Attache Bay, these kind of workers are called “sincere” workers by the Koreans.
“We can increase our quota if we religiously follow the EPS law, and this will be good for us because South Korea is a good destination for OFWs,” Baldoz said.
Effective January 2014, the minimum wage in South Korea will be increased by 7.2 percent, or 320 Korean won per hour, from 4,860 (US$4.58) won to 5,210 (US$4.92) won per hour. This is equivalent to around 1,088,890 won US$1,027.98 per month or P45,642.
Labor Attache Bay had reported that POLO South Korea data show there are 6,700 undocumented or overstaying Filipino workers under the EPS of the total 8,247 undocumented OFWs in South Korea as of September 2013.
As of the same date, there are 25,951 OFWs in that country, of which number 13,818 are under the EPS.(MNS)