PH looking into reported exploitation of Pinoy workers in New Zealand

MANILA— The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday said the Philippine Embassy in Wellington is currently looking into the reported exploitation of Filipino workers in New Zealand.

In a statement, DFA Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato said the embassy has been meeting with the affected overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“The Embassy is also coordinating with Migrante Aotearoa and New Zealand trade unions to discuss and address the various concerns of Filipino workers in New Zealand,” he added.

A research commissioned by the E Tū Union and was funded by the Industrial Relations Fund recording the experience of at least 45 Filipino respondents was released and reported by the RadioNZ recently.

The Filipino construction workers were paid with an average of USD16 to USD19 per hour compared to their native co-workers whose wages were at around USD35 per hour.

One of the respondents, Winston Lobaton, expressed “disappointment” with the system.

Like most of the Filipinos interviewed, his entry-level salary was USD19 when he first worked in New Zealand last year. Aside from the pay, he said his daily expenses also made it hard to provide financial support to his family in the Philippines.

“When we signed a contract in the Philippines, we were thinking that the wage we signed on for is a living wage,” he was quoted as saying by the RadioNZ.

According to Cato, Ambassador Jesus Gary Domingo has already engaged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and other relevant New Zealand agencies to look into crucial matters on migrant employment.

Among the matters raised were workers’ rights and their fair treatment in New Zealand, pastoral care, and access to correct mechanisms and appropriate support agencies.

The embassy has also been in close coordination with the New Zealand government on the reported exploitation of Filipino students.

“Ambassador Domingo has again reminded Filipinos considering working and studying in New Zealand to make sure that the offers and promises are genuine and not misleading,” Cato said. Joyce Ann L. Rocamora/