Philippines to ask Japan for mechanism to protect workers
The Philippine government will ask Japan to put in place a "grievance mechanism" to ensure protection of thousands overseas Filipino workers following the death of a Filipino trainee due to overwork, the country’s top labor official told the Manila Shimbun.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said his office tried to propose the inclusion of this mechanism in President Rodrigo Duterte's talking points with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his official visit to Japan.
Bello said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) did not include his proposal in the talking points..
"It's not there (in the agenda). Maybe because (the focus of the visit) was on trade relations," he said.
The joint statement of Duterte and Abe after their bilateral meeting on Wednesday did not mention about the situation of thousands of Filipino workers in Japan. The statement covered safety and security cooperation of the two countries, the loan assistance to be extended by Tokyo to Manila, and the need to respect the rule of law in the South China Sea.
Bello said he could take a separate trip to Japan and discuss the creation of a grievance mechanism with his Japanese counterpart.
"It may not necessarily be discussed on the level of the President, just minister to minister," he said, noting that the situation of the OFWs in Japan are "relatively better" compared to those in the Middle East.
He said he will ask the DFA to set an appointment for him with the Japan Labor Ministry early next year to propose for the creation of the grievance mechanism that aims to "provide protection to our overseas workers, labor standard, labor conditions."
This would also cover complaints and petition for benefits of OFWs who could be victims of accident.
Recently, Japan labor authorities found that Joey Tocnang, 27, died in 2014 due to overworked. He worked in a casting company in Gifu Prefecture.
The government said there are about 400,000 Filipinos working and living in Japan. Celerina Monte/ DMS