MECO seeks pay parity for factory and household workers in Taiwan

Published January 13, 2022, 4:41 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) has recommended to the Taiwan Ministry of Labor (MOL) to give equal payment for both household workers (HHW) and factory workers (FW).

This was raised by MECO Chairman and Resident Representative Wilfredo B. Fernandez during his meeting with MOL Minister Hsu, Ming-Chun on Tuesday, Jan. 11, as deployment of Overseas Filipino Workers to Taiwan is likely to resume very soon.

Noting that Filipinos HHW are generally well-educated and are known for being hardworking and responsible housekeepers of their employer’s household, the MECO Chairman suggested to the Labor Minister to consider raising their pay at par with the factory workers. Minister Hsu took note of the suggestion and said she will discuss the matter with the concerned officials while ensuring to strike a balance in the industry.

Meanwhile, the MECO Chairman reiterated his strong objection to exorbitant fees Philippine recruitment agencies charge to OFW, saying this matter could be addressed through simplified recruitment and better collaboration between the two countries. Reports earlier said an OFW seeking to work in Taiwan has to shell around P200,000 in placement fee to recruiters, an amount that Fernandez has decried as “criminal”.

During the meeting, Fernandez reiterated his request for “stranded” Filipino workers in the Philippines since May 2021 suspension of deployment due to COVID-19 pandemic, to be allowed to return to Taiwan.

Earlier, labor attaché in Taiwan Atty. Cesar Chavez, Jr. said during the MECO live FB program that barring any new COVID-19 surge Taiwan is likely to reopen its doors to OFW after the celebration of the 2022 Lunar New Year when more quarantine facilities are expected to be available.

According to Fernandez, the Labor Minister also cited the Philippines as an important international partner and the immense contribution of Filipinos to Taiwan’s economic development.

Likewise, he said that Minister Hsu cited their continued review of their labor rules to protect migrant workers’ rights, including those of the Filipinos, and to promote policies that would improve not only relations but also other benefits such as health care.

For his part, the MECO chairman thanked the Taiwan government for providing one of the best working environments for migrants, regardless of nationality, as he cited the very low labor cases due to fair working conditions in the country.

Early November last year, the MECO Chairman took the initiative to communicate to Malacañang to ensure Taiwan’s requirements for the resumption of OFW deployment be addressed immediately as he also strongly recommended that PH recruitment agencies shoulder all the pandemic fees. The recommendation is in consonance with a January 2021

Memo Circular No.1 of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) explicitly providing that pandemic fees prior to deployment shall be borne by the agency, at no cost to the worker. Fernandez emphasized that Taiwan-bound OFW should not pay for pandemic requirements as these expenses should be shouldered by the concerned PH recruitment agency.

Earlier, in a meeting sought by PILMAT (Pilipino Manpower Agencies Accredited To Taiwan, Inc.), the agencies through its board asked the MECO Chairman to allow them to charge the OFW with the pandemic fees. Fernandez rejected outright PILMAT’s request and cautioned them that it would check all arriving OFWs whether or not they were coerced to pay for their predeployment expenses and that any violation of POEA MC No. 001 by the recruitment agencies would result in MECO moving to suspend the agency’s license, de-list them from TECO accreditation and ensure that appropriate administrative charges are filed.

 
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