PHL Ambassador and PHL Labour attache meet with ChristChurch officials and stakeholders regarding Filipino workers interests and welfare
As the Philippine Embassy continues to engage and collaborate closely with local authorities, groups and stakeholders for the protection and welfare of Filipino workers, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez, Philippine Labour Attaché Atty. Rodolfo Sabulao and Philippine Honorary Consul Peter Wait met with Ms. Janine Parsons, Area Manager, Immigration New Zealand, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin, Mr. Stuart Lumsden, Southern Regional Manager, Labour Inspectorate, Mr. David Campbell, Area manager Central and Southern, Immigration New Zealand and Ms. Haley O’Donnell, Support Officer, Labour Inspectorate on 1 December 2014 in Christchurch city. The discussions focused on concerns and issues related to the employment, visa status, social protection mechanisms, health and safety, recruitment and deployment procedures, cooperative labour arrangements between the Philippines and New Zealand and other related matters. Philippine and New Zealand officials agreed that regular meetings, consultations and dialogues are highly useful and pave the way for closer cooperation, greater understanding and prompt action on various areas of concern especially those relating to the situation and status of an increasing number of Filipinos in the Canterbury region. According to the statistics provided by Immigration New Zealand, there are 3,128 Filipinos on a current work or skilled migrant resident visa for Canterbury divided into 1,811 in the rebuild sector and 1,317 in other occupations, as of 27 November 2014. There was a 50.29% increase from the 26 March 2014 figures of 1,205 Filipinos in the rebuild sector and 29% increase from 1,021 for the same period in the other occupations. Overall, the total number of Filipinos for both the rebuild and other occupations jumped by 40.52% in the Canterbury region from March to November this year.
Ambassador Benavidez, Philippine Labour Attaché Atty. Rodolfo Sabulao and Philippine Honorary Consul Peter Wait also met with Mr. Peter Townsend, Chief Executive, Ms. Lana Hart, Adviser, Skilled Migrant Business Services and Ms. Lisa Burdes, Settlement Information Coordinator, Skilled Migrant Business Services of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce (CECC). They talked about the importance of transparency, pastoral care, health care system, housing, promotion of businesses modelling good behaviour, connecting with the Filipino community, code of best practices for migrants, employment rights, settlement support groups and high aspirational components of both employers and workers in Christchurch, among others.
Ambassador Benavidez gave an update on the formation of the Association of Filipino Tradesmen in New Zealand (AFTNZ), its vision and mission and the interest of its officers to meet with the local authorities and organizations. The officials and representatives of Immigration New Zealand, Labour Inspectorate and the CECC stated that this is a positive development and expressed their willingness to meet with the officers of AFTNZ in the near future.
The Philippine Embassy in Wellington and the Office of the Philippine Labour Attaché resident in Canberra and accredited in New Zealand will continue to conduct regular visits and meetings and a forum will be organized early next year among the local officials, representatives, Filipino workers and members of the Filipino community and other stakeholders for continuing dialogue and interaction in New Zealand.