Saturday, February 4, 2012

Filipino Labor Secretary Sees Lifting of Filipino Workers Ban in Lebanon

BEIRUT—Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Wednesday signed two agreements here to protect the rights of overseas Filipino workers in Lebanon and pave the way for the lifting of the total deployment ban on OFWs coming to the country.
Baldoz said the agreements she signed with Lebanese Labor Minister Charbel Nahhas would also lead to a Department of Foreign Affairs
  (DFA) review of its certification of Lebanon as an unsafe country for deployment under Republic Act No. 10022 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995.
The two officials inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Labor Cooperation and a Protocol on Regulating the Recruitment and Employment of Domestic Workers.
Filipino Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz

Big step

“It’s a big step towards lifting the ban. With their (negative DFA certification) they really need this,” Baldoz said in an interview.
The total deployment ban on domestic workers to Lebanon was imposed in July 2007 after the country got caught up in an explosive conflict with Israel. There were an estimated 35,000 Filipinos in the country then but the number has since risen to some 50,000 with the continuing
influx of undocumented workers.
Baldoz said that among the benefits Filipino maids would get is a US$400 basic monthly wage. This provision would be included in the “unified work contract” the two sides will thresh out.
“The (MOU) and its accompanying Protocol are concrete positive steps of both Lebanon and the Philippines that demonstrate their mutual accord and commitment to the promotion of decent work for domestic workers in accordance with international standards,” a joint statement released by the two governments said.

Best effort

“One of the most important provisions of the Protocol is that both parties will exert their best efforts to come up with a mutually acceptable unified work contract and to lift the ban within a period of 30 days from the entering into effect of the (MOU) and the Protocol,” it said.
The statement also pointed out the Protocol would require that Lebanese employers deposit their domestic helper’s salary in a bank account under the worker’s name.
Baldoz was slated to sign only the MOU when she arrived here Tuesday but Nahhas insisted that they also come up with the Protocol and also sign it.
All day Tuesday and half of Wednesday, the Filipino delegation led by Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Hans Cacdac and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration head Carmelita Dimzon negotiated with their Lebanese counterparts to iron out the details.
Baldoz said the agreements would be reviewed by the Lebanese Parliament. Once they are approved, the DFA would review its negative certification of Lebanon and the POEA governing board would decide whether or not to lift the ban.
The Philippine government would have 30 days to decide whether or not to lift the ban once Lebanon formally informs it that its Parliament had given its nod to the agreements.

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