New online portal help Overseas Filipino Workers rate recruiters

Workers organizations and trade unions in the Philippines will launch a new web platform, to help protect migrant workers from abusive employment  practices through user reviews of recruitment agencies.

About 3,000 Filipino workers leave the country daily in search for a better life and decent work. The recruitment process is crucial to reduce or to prevent abuses, including false promises, high fees, illegal deductions, fake jobs, lower wages and unsafe working conditions.

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The Migrant Recruitment Advisor (MRA) , developed by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) , in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO) Fair Recruitment  initiative, lists thousands of agencies in Nepal, Philippines, Indonesia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and other countries. The platform can be accessed at https://www.recruitmentadvisor.org/.

MRA, similar to the TripAdvisor, allows migrant workers to comment on their experiences, rate the recruitment agencies and learn about their rights. In the Philippines, the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers is a top foreign policy concern under the administration of President Duterte.

“Migration should be a choice. The ILO supports countries like the Philippines in protecting the welfare of migrant workers through fair recruitment and rights-based migration. The Migrant Recruitment Advisor can help prospective Filipino migrant workers make informed decision or choice by going through online reviews,” says Director Khalid Hassan of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.

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Available in English and Filipino, and soon in other languages, the platform features licensed recruitment agencies of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). Governments provided the list of licensed agencies and a network of trade unions and civil society organizations in all target countries ensures the sustainability of the platform by reaching out to workers and speaking to them about their rights.

The consortium of workers organizations in the Philippines include the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), Federation of Free Workers (FFW) and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).

Ultimately, MRA  will promote recruiters who follow a fair recruitment process based on ILO General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment  and will provide useful feedback to governments regarding the practices of licensed recruitment agencies, which could be used to complement more traditional monitoring systems.

Recruitment is a critical stage when migrant workers are more vulnerable to abuse. “Unscrupulous recruitment agencies take advantage of the lack of law enforcement by governments or because workers are simply not aware of their rights,” says ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow. “It’s time to put power back into workers’ hands to rate the recruitment agencies and show whether their promises of jobs and wages are delivered.”

The MRA was officially launched in the Philippines on 26 July 2018, after series of regional consultations and launches held in Davao and Cebu. Members of the trade union consortium shared their support for the online platform.

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“Numerous platforms help inform prospective and current Filipino migrant workers, either through government orientation programmes, social media, or community interactions,” says Hussein Macarambon, Project Coordinator of the ILO Fair Recruitment Initiative in the Philippines. “ITUC and its national affiliates have initiated the platform given the scale and extent of recruitment violations through a rights-based information.”

Funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the ILO Fair Recruitment Initiative aims to reduce cases of recruitment violations, to develop innovative models and to create fair recruitment options for migrant workers. The MRA offers peer-to-peer reviews of recruitment agencies as intervention.

“Through the MRA, workers interested to work abroad can get more information about recruitment agencies. We believe migrant workers who have been recruited and employed abroad are the best recruitment advisors, says Jillian Roque of PSLINK and MRA focal point in the Philippines.

“ILO and trade unions believe that ensuring decent work starts with fair recruitment. In a country where many find jobs abroad through private recruitment agencies, it is important to provide workers with reliable information about recruitment practices of licensed recruitment agencies,” explains Roque.

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