Various Analysis Ideas / Projects

Key Points on the Philippines to Europe Migration Corridor

  1. Very few POEA approved job orders for migration from the Philippines to Europe.
    2. See Google Data Studio Report on POEA Job Orders for illustration of quantity and type of job orders for each country – (data scraped from POEA website in May 2021)
    3. Many of the job orders from the Philippines to Europe relate to skilled / semi-skilled labour such as welding. However, many of these skills / semi-skilled jobs do not actually exist and workers subsequently end up working in unskilled labour positions.

      We suspect this is happening because the POEA is more likely to approve a skilled / semi-skilled labour job order than an unskilled labour job order for countries in Europe. As a result, agencies may be camouflaging unskilled labour jobs as skilled / semi-skilled labour jobs in order to get POEA to approve the job order and allow the OFWs to fly to Europe directly from the Philippines.
  2. Majority of Filipinos arrive in Europe through transit countries or intermediary countries.
    1. Transit countries involve the OFW first obtaining a VISA to a third country and then traveling from that third country to Europe without taking up employment in the third country.
      1. Common transit countries include Malaysia and Maldives.
      2. In these cases OFWs are usually required to take out a loan to pay a placement fee and agency expenses ranging from PHP200,000 to PHP 450,000. The lenders that grant these loans are conspiring with the employment agencies and are often owned by the agency owner.
      3. The lenders and agencies will also require OFWs to open bank accounts at a local Philippines bank branch that is conspiring with the lender or employment agency involved. The lender and agency will then coerce the prospective OFW into signing blank checks which are then confiscated. If the OFW does not make timely payments on the unlawful debt, the lender and agency will threaten to write a sum of money on the check and attempt to cash the check knowing that the check will bounce. The lender will then file a criminal BP 22 (bounced check) case against the OFW who will then be subject to criminal proceedings and may be arrested at the airport when they return to the Philippines. The lender will then offer to withdraw the criminal case if the OFW makes additional payments.
    2. Intermediary countries involve OFWs who have already left the Philippines to work as an OFW in another country or location such as Hong Kong SAR, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, etc. Employment agencies in these locations working with partners in Europe will recruit OFWs who are currently employed in intermediary countries and ask them to apply/pay for a job in Europe.
      1. For reasons that are unclear, Poland appears to be the primary destination for OFWs first arriving in Europe. This may be because Poland is less strict on issuing VISA or because of other unknown factors.
      2. Polish embassies/consulates will only issue VISAs to OFWs in person. Therefore, the marketing, recruitment, and deployment of currently employed OFWs to Poland by agencies is primarily limited to jurisdictions which have a VISA issuing Polish embassy/consulate and a high population of OFWs. These jurisdictions include:
        1. Hong Kong SAR
        2. Taiwan
        3. Saudi Arabia
        4. Singapore
        5. South Korea
        6. AEU
        7. Cyprus
        8. Malaysia
        9. Saudia Arabia
      3. Prices to obtain a job in Europe from an intermediary country range from HK$30,000 to HK$80,000 or the equivalent in local currency. Agencies often coordinate with local banks such as Prime Credit Limited or other lenders in order to help OFWs finance these fees.

        If OFWs do not make timely payments the lenders/recruiters will communicate to the OFW that the agency submitted false information to the Polish embassy in order to get them a VISA and that the agency or lender would inform the Polish embassy of the false information in their application in order to get them deported if they do not make payments.
        1. (HK$32,000)

        2. (SG$4,900)

Agencies like Artellect falsely claim that they are allowed to charge placement fees exceeding the legal limits in Hong Kong SAR and Singapore because the job is overseas and therefore not subject to the Employment Ordinance in Hong Kong SAR or similar laws in Singapore, etc.

  1. In order to bypass restrictions on deployment of OFWs from the Philippines directly to Europe, many agencies are now promoting work-study programs where the OFW will officially be on a student VISA in Europe.
  2. There exist a large number of complaints regarding overcharging and exploitation of workers to Poland in proportion to the number of OFWs who are deployed there.
    2. (all 2021 POEA complaints scrapped from in June 2021)
    3. (POEA complaint data since ~2004 to April 2021)
  3. Many Government to Government programs to Europe exist, however, we don’t have a lot of data on these programs.
  4. OFW who arrive in Europe through intermediary countries can not easily return to the Philippines and then return to their job in Europe, unless their employment is formalized through the POEA.
    1. OFWs with jobs that are not approved by the POEA can not receive an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) and as a result are generally barred from leaving the Philippines by Philippines immigration. Therefore, most OFWs in Europe are unable to return to the Philippines for vacation or risk losing their job as they will likely not be able to return to Europe.
    2. DOLE/POEA has promised to implement “normalization” programs but these have had limited success so far:
        1. There appears to be a convoluted process where unofficial employers who hired OFWs via intermediary countries or transit countries can sign a contract addendum in order for the employment to be approved by the POEA, after that the OFW will be able to obtain an OEC and easily travel to and from the Philippines. However, very few employers are willing to sign these addendums and the employers that do sign them don’t appear to uphold the provisions in the addendum. Plus the addendums appear to change and are inconsistent between different POLO offices in Europe.
  5. In the case of intermediary country deployment of OFWs, it is important to note that:
    1. These OFWs have the most “leverage” when they are still employed in the intermediary country. They generally have recurring income and stable employment with at least some ability to change employers, try new agencies, etc. However, once a worker arrives in Europe, their “leverage” and choices are greatly reduced.
      1. This profile of recruitment often results in the first European job being the job with the most favorable working conditions. In the event that the worker gets terminated from this first employment, they have less and less leverage as time goes on and are thus often funnelled into more and more exploitative jobs. A typical scenario may play out like this:
        1. Hong Kong to Poland to work in a semi-skilled factory job.
        2. After termination from the Poland based job they may be funnelled to Malta to work in more exploitative and less skilled jobs including cleaner, domestic worker, and in some cases may be recruited for red light/entertainment districts.
        3. This cycle may continue with other exploitative jobs in Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Etc.

          OFWs may feel they need to accept these more exploitative jobs because they may not have the funds to return to the Philippines and they know if they return to the Philippines the time and costs associated with coming back to Europe are enormous and largely impractical for most individuals.
  6. Destination countries beside Poland include:
    1. Italy
    2. Greece
    3. Cyprus
    4. Malta
    5. Turkey
    6. Hungary
    7. Serbia
    8. Ukraine
  7. There are many fake job scams whereby recruiters promise employment in Europe in exchange for a large sum of money. Many OFWs are now seeing these scams and are asking their employment agencies if they can pay the placement fee via salary deduction rather than upfront fees.
    1. From the OFWs perspective salary deduction is less risky because it ensures that they only pay money if they actually arrive in Europe and thus avoid the risks associated with a fake jobs scam.
  8. Facebook links / websites / other
    1. /
    2. / 
  9. Things we don’t know but want to look into
    1. Media/literature review of important news, cases, laws, policy, and other developments
    2. Research working conditions and what is the flow of workers who end up in very exploitative circumstances. Do people who initially go to work in Poland in a decent job get coerced into sexual exploitation, slavery, etc
    3. Research ethical employment schemes
    4. Research current NGO strategies
    5. Research government agencies and departments
    6. Research tribunals, courts, and criminal, civil, or administrative forums
    7. Research the possibility of sustainable business models for ethnic deployment
  10. Determine the countries and jurisdictions that are involved: sending, transit, intermediary, and host
  11. FOI/A2I requests to all government authorities for each sending, transit, intermediary, and host country for the following:
    1. List of employment agencies
    2. Employment agency regulation and enforcement statistics
    3. List of money lenders
    4. Money lender regulation and enforcement statistics
    5. Immigration statistics
      1. VISA granted by type
      2. Residents, naturalization, and other information
    6. Crime statistics
    7. Department of Corrections statistics (jail/prison)
    8. Government department funding and staffing statistics
    9. Types of Labour complaints
      1. Results of labor complaints
    10. Research false trade descriptions, deception, false advertising, and consumer protection laws
  12. Determine if Facebook is a popular medium and has the same effectiveness as Facebook is for Hong Kong to Philippines migrant workers
  13. Quantifying different levels of access to social media for different jurisdictions. For example, a jurisdiction with very costly mobile data may be harder to engage with than a jurisdiction with very cheap mobile data
  14. Follow relevant Facebook pages and join Facebook groups and Facebook group chats
  15. Setup Facebook pages, Facebook groups, and Facebook group chats for each jurisdiction
    1. Launch social media pages, groups, and group chat to start collecting data, increasing engagements, and promoting the pages, information, etc.
    2. Post content to Facebook and track common problems and the effectiveness of different solutions
  16. Research payment mechanisms for debt and fees associated with deployment
  17. Research inter-europe transfers and migration for individuals that are already in Europe. Example: Poland to Italy, Italy to Malta, Malta to Morocco
  18. Philippines policy perspective of European migration corridors
  19. Research normalization of workers in Europe by host countries and Philippines government
  20. Contact 5 agencies in each jurisdiction and ask about pricing and deployment mechanisms
  21. Outline relevant government departments for each jurisdiction
  22. Find powerful or key stakeholders (NGO, government officials, industry groups, unions, etc)
  23. Find top employment agencies by volume in each jurisdiction
  24. Outline mechanisms for legal redress in each jurisdiction
  25. Identity and scrape publicly accessible data/databases in each jurisdiction
  26. Review legal cases in each jurisdiction
  27. Request POEA and NLRC disclose judgements for case relating to certain jurisdictions
  28. List of cases with good outcomes (high refunds) and bad outcomes
  29. List of good and bad strategies
  30. Talk with stakeholders in each jurisdiction (NGO, funders, unions, migrants, agencies, etc)
  31. What reasons/policies are in place that make Poland a very popular country to work in when first entering Europe? Can other countries replicate these policies? What is good and bad about this?

  32. Deportation / repatriation numbers
    1. Pending A2I/FOI requests
  33. NGO List (Partial)
    1. Different & Equal / 
    2. Qendra Plan & Go
    3. Qendra Psiko – Sociale “Vatra” / 
    4. RENATE – Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation / 
    5. Verein LEFÖ – Beratung, Bildung und Begleitung für Migrantinnen / 
    6. European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ) ASBL /  
    7. ECPAT France / 
    9. Hors la Rue / 
    10. Open Gate – Association for Action against Violence and Trafficking in Human Beings / 
    11. ADPARE – Association for the Development of Alternative Practices for Education and Reintegration / 
    12. Fundacion Fernando Pombo / 
    13. Hermanas Oblatas del Santísimo Redentor-Provincia de Europa / 
    14. Adoratrices Esclavas del Santisimo Sacramento y de la Caridad / 
    15. FairWork / 
    16. Lumens / 
    17. Stichting Fier / 
    18. Stichting Terre des Hommes Nederland / 
    19. ​​The International La Strada Association / 
    20. Lumos Foundation /
    21. (to find more European NGOs)
    22. database (need to register an account)