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POLO freezes 2 more agencies hiring for Russia, Turkey

05 September 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

Two Hong Kong employment agencies have been suspended from processing domestic workers’ contracts at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in a crackdown on recruiters luring OFWs here with jobs in Russia, Turkey and other countries.

The latest suspensions bring to four the number of agencies hit by POLO’s action for allegedly recruiting Hong Kong-based Filipinos illegally for jobs in a third country

The two agencies are Good Family Employment Agency Co Ltd, which has been recruiting OFWs for deployment in Russia; and C.U Consultant & Employment Services, or CUCES, which is offering jobs in Turkey.

Two other agencies that POLO had suspended earlier for third-country deployment of OFWs here were Emry’s Employment Agency in Central and Wanchai, and Boss Employment Agency in Sham Shui Po.

“We will not tolerate any wrongdoing of any employment agency accredited with POLO Hong Kong,” Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre told The SUN on Aug 17.

“Third-country deployment is contrary to POEA Rules and Regulations, and undermines the sanctity of employment contracts in Hong Kong. Let this be a warning to other accredited employment agencies,” he said.

Hiring Filipino workers for jobs outside Hong Kong, called third-country deployment, is illegal because it exposes them to risks such as exploitation and human trafficking, as the jobs and work contracts are not verified by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

Labatt Dela Torre suspended Good Family, which has its offices at Jade Centre, Kennedy Town, on Aug 10 after receiving reports that it was recruiting workers for Russia.

He followed that up on Aug 17 by suspending CUCES, which has been trying to lure Filipino workers here with “plenty of opportunities” in Turkey and promises of eligibility for acquiring immigrant visa after five years of working there.

Two days earlier, Labatt Dela Torre posted on his Facebook page a screengrab of another FB post by CUCES inviting jobseekers to apply for work in Turkey.

The agency also posted on its website a poster inviting jobseekers to an interview and orientation on Aug 20 in its Wanchai office where five Turkish recruiters are to join CUCES owner Ugur Akin in briefing the workers on living and working in Turkey.

The recruiter was offering monthly salaries of US$700 to US$1,000 for nannies plus their “own room and free wi-fi”, amenities that most foreign helpers in Hong Kong can only dream of.

The Consulate has time and again warned against the malpractice of recruiting Hong Kong-based Filipinos and deploying them to other countries without going through proper channels.

But agencies in Hong Kong have ignored the ban and are actively and openly recruiting Filipino workers for Russia, Turkey and other places such as Brazil.

In most cases, the agencies let the recruits travel on visitor visas because importation of foreign domestic workers is illegal in their destination countries. Then syndicates in those places get them commercial or even student visas to justify their longer stay.

But after those visas expire or their employers dump them, the workers are left high and dry and forced to stay illegally with friends, or surrender to the Philippine embassies in those countries for repatriation.

On June 28, the embassy in Moscow repatriated 20 Filipinos who ended up as illegal migrants after their initial tourist or commercial visa there expired. The repatriation was described as “the highest monthly figure so far” of OFWs deported by Russia.

They were among some 100 victims of a Russian visa agent who vanished with their money and passports. The incident forced the OFWs to return home rather than stay in Russia illegally and risk arrest and heavy penalties, the embassy said in a press release.

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