Jobs of Filipinos in US at risk–groups

Remittances may slide by half

By Edson C. Tandoc Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 16:04:00 10/13/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The global financial slump is snatching away not only jobs from Filipino construction workers abroad, but also the remittances for their families back home, international labor groups warned.

The male-dominated construction industry in the US, where many Filipino laborers work, has been badly hit and as the number of available jobs shrink, the number of undocumented Filipinos abroad could rise, according to Ambet Yuson, regional representative of the Building and Wood Workers’ International.

“The bigger problem is since they will not have jobs here in the Philippines, those who will lose their jobs would rather stay there undocumented instead of going home,” Yuson said Monday.

Their families should also tighten belts this holiday season as remittances would most likely shrink by half, he added.

“We have talked to some workers and they told us that they would only send half of their salaries to their families. Prices of commodities in the US also went up,” Yuson explained.

They have also monitored some Filipino workers who had already gone home after losing their jobs. “Their families will have a sad Christmas, with probably less Christmas lights,” he said.

Filipino nurses in the US have been affected too, Public Service International vice president Annie Geron said. There are many Filipino health workers in the US. In New Jersey, for instance, 60 percent of health workers are Filipinos, Geron said.

“Those in the health sector are very vulnerable now. If they lose their present jobs, competition for the remaining jobs is tighter and Americans will be prioritized,” Geron added.

Those who would choose to stay as undocumented migrants instead of going home would be vulnerable to exploitation, Geron warned.

She warned of the country’s lack of a plan for this kind of crisis.

Yuson said the government should draw up a plan to accommodate overseas workers returning home. “We cannot forever rely on migration for development,” he said.

The earlier announcement of 10,000 jobs available for Filipinos in Canada is now in doubt, as the financial crisis could slow down recruitment, while the jobs of those who flew there are now at risk, according to Yuson.


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