CHR laments wage theft cases against OFWs, seeks justice mechanisms

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has lamented the growing number of wage theft among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and is urging the government to address the issues they are facing.

Commission on Human Rights (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

Commissioner Gwendolyn Ll. Pimentel-Gana, the CHR's focal commissioner on migrants' rights said in a statement that there is lack of support for OFWs from the sending and receiving countries, which has sadly led to cases of wage theft. Aside from this, OFWs also face issues of improper compensation, non-payment of wages, and job loss.

The CHR has suggested that funds for OFWs, be set up at the national level. These funds, either from the government, private institutions, businesses or philanthropic foundations, would later be regained by the government from employers and businesses who were involved in wage theft.

"This approach would ensure that migrant workers are paid their dues without delay, and that their cases are resolved swiftly," said Pimentel-Gana.

Another suggestion is for a reformation of the justice system by setting up expedited labor courts, waving of court fees, putting in place wage protection systems, provision of worker hotlines in different languages, facilitating power of attorney procedures, allowing for remote testimony post repatriation, providing legal aid, and encouraging workers to come forward to register their labor grievances, among other things.

Pimentel-Gana said that speeding up the payment of wages of OFWs must be recognized and addressed because countless families and communities are depending on it to survive, especially now with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) health crisis still looming.

"For our part, CHR will continue to engage with government and civil society in finding durable solutions and redress for human rights grievances that beset OFWs and members of their families especially in this time of pandemic," she said.