Following the change in contract provisions after the successful campaign to put in security measures for foreign domestic workers cleaning windows, a growing number of OFWs have complained of getting their contracts rejected by the Immigration Department and then getting charged again by the Philippine government for the processing of the correct contract.
“It is a double whammy for OFWs due mainly to the lack of information and foresight of the Philippine Consulate General through the Philippine Overseas Labor Office. They already knew that the HK’s Immigration Department will not be processing old contracts anymore starting February – and yet they processed old contract they knew that they could only give back to the applicant for submission to the immigration by the said date or even after,” said Dolores Balladares, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK).
According to Balladares, many Filipino domestic workers complained that they were not aware of the new (blue) contract from the Immigration Department when they submitted the old (green) employment contract processed at the POLO office.
They were then asked to return to the consulate and process the correct paper.
“However, instead of making amends for their failure to inform OFWs thus creating confusion among the migrant workers, the POLO added more misery for them when they were required to pay another processing fee for the blue color contract. Should OFWs be punished and penalized for the incompetence of government officials?” Balladares-Pelaez said.
Balladares stressed that it is the responsibility of the Philippine officials in Hong Kong to inform OFWs about the new process and should not capitalize on the problem – of their own doing – to further collect from OFWs.
She asked POLO officials to waive the employment contract processing fee for those whose contracts will be rejected by the Immigration Department, and refund the payment of those who were already made to pay again.
“We urge you to provide genuine service to our sector and to stop taking advantage of the Immigration Department’s new policy to make money from the concerned OFWs,” she concluded.