Migrante International today marched with Filipino workers and other sectors in support of the call for a legislated, across-the-board, national minimum wage set at P750 per day.
“A P750 national minimum wage can significantly reverse the migration of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). If implemented, for every year, around 200,000 workers can opt to stay and contribute their labor and skills for nation-building while living decently with their families,” said Arman Hernando, Migrante International spokesperson.
Hernando said that based on Migrante’s study, OFWs who receive a basic salary of US$400-500 per month would prefer to work in the Philippines instead because their income will be at par with the meager pay they receive abroad.
Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) show that since 2011 the country has been annually deploying at least 200,000 OFWs to job positions with salaries ranging from US$400-500/month. Majority are Household Service Workers and General Laborers in the Middle East who receive monthly salaries of 400 US Dollars and 1,500 Saudi Riyals, respectively.
Further, according to 2015 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, these OFWs account for 33 percent of the total OFW deployment.
“Meanwhile, OFWs are coming back home not because they opt to but because of the effects of an ongoing global economic crisis in host countries. Hundreds of thousands of OFWs are being displaced and retrenched in crisis-stricken Saudi Arabia. What awaits them in the event of their emergency return? Definitely there are not enough decent-paying domestic jobs available. What the government offers are mere dole-outs and band-aid solutions that are not long-term solutions to unemployment, low wages and lack of social services,” Hernando said.
The situation of OFWs has undeniably worsened since the labor export policy came into full force. Policy-wise, the Duterte government has so far done nothing substantial to curb forced migration and deviate from a policy of labor export. The Philippine economy’s dependence on remittances of OFWs remains unparelleled to this day.
“It will be a never-ending cycle, unless Pres. Duterte makes good his promise to address the root causes of forced migration. Unemployment, low wages, contractualization, landlessness, and poor social services have been driving our OFWs away. If the president sincerely wants our OFWs to come back home, we need more regular jobs, higher wages and pro-labor policies, not a labor export policy that has long gone bankrupt,” Hernando said.
To genuinely address the problem of forced migration, economic policies should focus on developing the national economy by advancing local industries, agriculture and basic services.
Migrante International fully supports the call and struggle for national industrialization and genuine land reform as the ultimate solution to the problem of forced migration. ###