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11/06/2012: PHL Ambassador and US Labor Secretary Sign Agreement on Migrant Workers Rights

Ambassador Jose Cuisia (seated, 2nd from left) signs the partnership agreement with U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis (seated, 2nd from right) as other Labor Department officials look on.

11 June 2012, Washington DC. During a ceremony today at the Washington headquarters of the United States Department of Labor (DOL), ambassadors representing the embassies of the Philippines, Honduras, Peru and Ecuador signed partnership agreements with Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis that would ensure migrant workers are aware of the right to safe workplaces and to receive full payment of the wages owed to them under the laws of the U.S.

The accord augurs well for Filipino migrant workers throughout the U.S.  According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the number of “Filipino in any combination” increased by 44.5% from 2,364,815 in 2000 to 3,416,840.  The protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare and interest of Filipinos overseas is among the three pillars of Philippine foreign policy.

"We are very pleased to sign these joint declarations and letters of arrangement with DOL," said Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. "We assure DOL we will do our part in ensuring the dissemination of helpful information to Filipino workers concerning their right to a safe and healthy working environment, and fair wages and working hours in the U.S., and in assisting them to seek redress when such rights are disregarded or outrightly violated."

Under the agreement, regional enforcement offices of the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and its Wage and Hour Division (WHD) will cooperate with Philippine consulates throughout the U.S.   Together, the consulates and Labor Department agencies will reach out to migrant workers with information about U.S. health, safety and wage laws.

The partnerships will help the WHD and OSHA more effectively enforce U.S. laws, especially in high-risk and low-wage industries. This cooperation also will help both agencies identify problems faced by migrant workers and target labor law enforcement efforts.

“Migrant workers make important contributions to our economy,” said Secretary Solis.  “Enforcing labor rules means we ensure that companies that play by the rules get an advantage and compete in a level playing field, and that all workers are safe on the job and are fairly compensated.”

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (leftmost) discusses the partnership agreement with (l-r) Ambassador Nathalie Cely of Ecuador, Ambassador Harold Forsyth of Peru, Ambassador Jose Cuisia of the Philippines, and Ambassador Jorge Ramon Hernandez Alcerro of Honduras.

With today's signings, DOL now has similar agreements with ten countries.  The Labor Department previously implemented agreements with Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic.

The U.S. DOL’s WHD is responsible for administering and enforcing laws that establish minimally acceptable standards for wages and working conditions in the country.  WHD has over 200 district, field, and area offices across the country with trained personnel available to assist workers.  Workers with questions or concerns may contact WHD at 1-866 487-9243 or visit www.wagehour.dol.gov.  All services are free and confidential.  (END)