By Don Tagala, ABS CBN North America News Bureau | 11/16/2012 4:49 PM
NEW YORK CITY - In a collaborative effort to protect the rights of Filipino workers in the Northeast, the US Department of Labor and the Philippine Consulate in New York this week signed an agreement.
The agreement aims to provide Filipino workers increased protection, safety and improved law enforcement in the work place under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and the Immigration and National Act.
“They have rights and they have protections and it doesn’t matter what their status is, if they are working here they are entitled to paid properly,” said George Ference, US Dept of Labor Northeast Regional Administrator.
“Ito ang pinag-uusapan natin dito, if they have complaints about wages, about overtime, they can file a complaint with the wage and hour division and it will be investigated. They can even file a complaint without telling their name as long as they identify the employer,” Philippine Consul General Mario De Leon said.
The agreement will cover the following States: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Michelle Saulon, a member of community advocate group National Alliance of Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) said overseas Filipino workers will benefit more if all these information were given out to OFWs even before they leave the Philippines to work abroad.
“Dapat before kayo umalis ng Pilipinas at tumutuntong sa ibang bansa para magtrabaho malaman na nila yung kanilang karapatan, hindi lang pang trabaho pero overall na karapatan,” Saulon said.
The US Department of Labor even has an app for for iPhones and Android phones to record work hours and calculate the amount of wages that can be charged to employers.
It may also include overtime pay calculations at a rate of time and a half, in excess of 40 hours of work in a week.