Press Release
August 16, 2007

Jinggoy wants two labor attaches posted in Australia

Senate president pro tempore Jinggoy Estrada yesterday recommended the posting of two labor attaches in Australia - one in the Australian Capital Territory and the other in the Northern Territory .

Estrada, retained chairman of the Senate committee on labor, said, "Posting competent labor attaches in the two territories of Australia would help the Philippines maximize the vast work opportunities there for our own labor force, as well as ensure the protection of our OFWs in that country."

Australia 's 2001 census recorded 103,990 Filipino-born persons distributed in the two territories, citing that Filipinos comprise one of the fastest growing overseas-born populations there.

In 2006, the Australia Department of Employment and Workplace Relations identified and offered at least 20,000 additional jobs for skilled foreigners that included health workers, engineers, trade persons and other professionals. Similar job demand identification programs are expected in years to come.

"Our government - through labor attaches - could take advantage of this kind of job identification and offering by Australia , especially for skilled Filipinos who could not land desired jobs here in our country," Estrada said, adding:

"At the same time, these labor attaches could also attend to instances of alleged maltreatment of OFWs there."

The group MIGRANTE reported that in January last year, 15 Filipino workers were subjected to sub-human conditions in the hospitality industry in the country's capital, Canberra . Also, this August, an Australian company was accused of underpaying 42 OFWs and firing three of them because they joined the labor union.

Estrada also wants to look into reports that some Australian firms utilizing the "name-hiring" system - though which a Filipino worker directly applies to an employer there without assistance of a Philippine-registered placement agency - violate labor procedures such as, for one, the submission of an Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA). The AWA enables the Australian government to monitor and ensure employers' compliance with foreigners' work contracts and required proper work conditions.

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