Guaranteeing Back Pay and Benefits for OFWs Affected by Layoffs in New Zealand

Senate majority leader urges prompt action on OFWs unfulfilled pay and benefits

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva called on the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to ensure that displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in New Zealand will receive their back pay and benefits on time.

Villanueva’s request comes after 700 workers were laid off in New Zealand by ELE, a skilled labor agency in the construction and manufacturing sector, without warning just four days before Christmas.

Although the firm promised to pay the OFWs, it did not provide a specific date for doing so.

“We ask the DMW and the DFA to immediately make representations with the New Zealand government and the private company so that obligations to our OFWs will be fulfilled in the soonest time possible,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva, author of the DMW Act, emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating, “Having no job in a foreign country is a nightmare for our kababayan OFWs. For them, it’s no work, no pay. And without pay, how will they survive?”

The senator also highlighted the significance of a swift response from the DMW and the DFA to avoid a situation similar to the one in 2015, where over 10,000 OFWs in Saudi Arabia were laid off and are still waiting for their back wages and benefits.

Villanueva also expressed concern that the OFWs in New Zealand, despite having valid visas for three years, are unable to change jobs. Since the layoffs, they have been relying on support from fellow Filipinos, but this is not sustainable in the long run.

The senator also called on the DFA and DMW to monitor the situation of OFWs in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, following recent violent attacks.

“Our office has received reports of the situation of our kababayans in Papua New Guinea who are seeking assistance from the government because of these violent attacks,” Villanueva said.

“Our OFWs are obviously the victims here. Swift government action will help alleviate their plight,” he added.

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