Amid the increasing expenses and cost of living in Hong Kong, Filipino migrant workers are feeling the pressure of staying afloat the living conditions while allocating part of their earnings for their families back home in the Philippines.
It is for this reason that when the proposal for the mandatory OFW insurance was floated, it was met with heavy opposition by labour groups and migrant workers themselves.
Migrant Workers Rally to Scrap Mandatory OFW Insurance
Migrant Filipino workers led by the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil-Migrante HK) trooped to the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Wanchai last January 17 to air their thoughts regarding the mandatory insurance which the government plans to impose on all OFWs, as shared in a report by the Sun.
The group called to scrap the mandatory insurance scheme and attempted to get Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre’s position on the issue, but dela Torre explained that he wouldn’t be drawn to make a stand otherwise he’d be “reassigned elsewhere again” referring to his six-month recall to home office last year, which had only been reversed after Filipino community leaders petitioned to get him back to Hong Kong.
However, despite his non-position on the matter, Labatt Dela Torre assured the group of workers that came down to the POLO office that their sentiments would be duly relayed to Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
According to Unifil chairwoman Dolores Balladares, the new exaction would go on top of the insurance cover which overseas Filipino workers are currently required to pay for, such as Social Security System, Pag-IBIG, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and PhilHealth.
Balladares explained that the fees keep piling up, and while the mandatory insurance fee is to be shouldered by employers, this could only potentially increase friction between them and their employees, and could even cost the latter their jobs in the process.
The insurance premium that is currently being collected from first-time OFWs only, costs around USD 144 or HKD 1,200 for every land-based worker.
Balladares shared that over 150 OFWs had already signed a petition for the dumping of the insurance plan as of January 17, and that they are still gaining more support, so to speak.
If and when the initiative pushes through, a certificate of insurance will be among the requirements OFWs must submit before they could be documented by the POEA.