Recruiters thank GMA

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — RECRUITMENT agencies deploying Filipino senior carers (caregivers) to the United Kingdom thanked President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for looking into the predicament of our Filipino OFWs with British Parliamentarians during her visit to the United Kingdom.

President Arroyo met with 24 British MPs from different party lines and took up the matter of Filipino senior caregivers under threat of deportation in view of the refusal of the Borders and Immigration Agency to renew their work permits unless their care homes seal a new agreement with the new imposed salary rate of 7.02 pounds per hour.

St. Georges Recruitment International, Inc., through its chairman, Mr. Philip Leonard, said that the efforts of the President and Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom, H.E. Edgardo Espiritu augur well for the caregivers in the UK and for current caregivers in the Philippines whose work permit applications are still pending with the Home Office. St. George is a prominent player in the deployment of medical and health professionals to Great Britain and is actively pursuing reforms in the immigration laws with the English Care Community Association.

The British MPs expressed their solidarity in approving a House of Commons motion to extend the stay of Filipino caregivers whose work permits have expired or about to expire until the BIA comes up with a new set of guidelines for foreign caregivers outside the EU and revises the unacceptable new minimum rate of pay for senior carers. So far, the motion has garnered 55 signatures for a temporary amnesty for senior carers and with the visit of President Arroyo and her talks with the British MPs this figure is expected to snowball in the House.

The problem of the Filipino caregivers who are staying in the United Kingdom from 3-6 years started this year when the BIA refused to act on applications for work permits without a new set of entry rules that would cover the entry of foreign caregivers outside the European Union.

In August, the BIA relented to approve the work permits however they imposed a new minimum rate of 7.02 pounds per hour from the previous 5.53 pounds. The three largest care homes in the UK opposed the rate which has no basis and refused to implement the new pay scheme for the caregivers.

Meanwhile, care associations and trade labor unions are pressing the Home Office to declare the position of senior carers as a “skills shortage occupation” to enable senior carers to qualify in the Tier 2 list for the points system that will be implemented by the BIA in April 2008. Included in the Tier 2 are nurses, teachers and engineers and if senior carers are listed under the shortage occupation, they would automatically qualify for Tier 2 category which requires 50 points.

The Immigration Board of Advisors is studying this matter and the care associations are optimistic that these will pave the way for the approval of thousands of pending work permit applications by early next year.