Saturday, June 16, 2012
US-PH INK 'JOINT DECLARATION' TO UPHOLD MIGRANT WORKERS RIGHTS
and Philippines has forged a
Joint Declaration on Migrant Worker Rights which aims to avoid a repetition of
violations that led to the debarment of a Maryland public school system that
victimized Filipino teachers.
Philippine Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. signed the Joint Declaration with US Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis last June 11. The
US signed similar accords with representatives
of Honduras and Peru.
The Labor Department slapped the
Public School system (PGCPS)
last year with a 2-year debarment and $1.7 million fine for illegally
collecting placement fees from international teachers, most of them from the Philippines.
They found PGCPS “willfully violated” the conditions of H-2B visas that allowed the Filipino teachers to work and bring their families to
Maryland. Over 800 of them were lured from jobs
in the Philippines and now
face the unwelcome prospect of a reverse migration.
“We are sad for the teachers. They abandoned everything in the
Philippines for the
American dream,” Philippine Labor Attache Luz Padilla told the Manila Mail.
She revealed that Cuisia has already made arrangements with Philippine Education (DECS) Secretary Armand Luistro to employ teachers displaced from
“The DECS will assist Filipino teachers who have to return to the
Philippines so they
can be accommodated in Philippine schools,” she explained.
“I am sure if there are opportunities in private schools, DECS can also help,” she added.
Private schools usually offer better pay and benefits than their government counterparts, a more palatable option for many of the displaced teachers who were lured to the
primarily by the promise of a higher salary.
Work permits for the last – and biggest batch – of Filipino teachers in
County will expire in September. A separate group from the Baltimore public school system is expected to
suffer a similar fate as more Americans re-discover the teaching profession because
of the tight labor market.
“We continue to monitor them,” Padilla said. She said they are working with the US Labor Department to ensure Filipino teachers in
Prince George’s County receive their refund of
the fees illegally collected from them.
The DOL had ordered the PGCPS to return some $4.2 million it unlawfully collected from the Filipino mentors.
Padilla said the DOL accord will go a long way to preventing a repetition of the
“We have enough regulations (in the
Philippines) in place. They should not have paid
excessive placement fees because that is prohibited by law then we found out
that under US laws, they’re not supposed to pay that at all,” she explained.
“Information should have been provided to our teachers,” Padilla stressed.