Assessing Labor Risk for Workers Migrating From the Philippines to Europe ​

With over 368,000 Filipino citizens in Europe, the Philippines is a key source of labor in the region. The process of gaining employment in Europe can be fraught with risks; some Filipino workers may find themselves working under exploitative conditions, or under the weight of debt from fees paid during the recruitment and migration process.

With the support of Porticus, Verité conducted an assessment of labor risks for Filipino migrant workers involved in the fishing, seafaring, and domestic work sectors in Europe, as well as in two emerging host countries for Filipino workers: the Czech Republic and Poland. Findings from this research document the root causes of labor risk associated with the recruitment and hiring process and those that arise while being deployed in Europe. For each target sector and host country, the report provides steps that governments, the private sector, civil society, trade unions, and other stakeholders can take to reduce labor exploitation among Filipino migrant workers.

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Photo of map made of wood showing Europe
We conducted an exploratory study of the recruitment practices in Cambodia, Myanmar, and Lao PDR for workers destined for Thailand to map the critical intervention points in these sending countries where the risks to jobseekers begin. Our findings represent a snapshot of a dynamic process and depict the current environment in which labor migration in these corridors is happening. These findings and observations are intended to complement existing research efforts to further inform strategies for removing barriers to safe, transparent, and sustainable pathways to employment in Thailand.
Seeking to better understand the risks of forced labor and human trafficking in the Thai seafood industry, Nestlé contracted Verité to conduct a focused investigation of six production sites in Thailand—three shrimp farms (one in Mahachai and two in Surat Thani), two ports of origin (Ranong Fish Port and Mahachai Fish Port), and one docked fishing boat (in Ranong Fish Port).
Malaysia’s electronics sector workforce includes hundreds of thousands of foreign migrant workers who come to Malaysia on the promise of a good salary and steady work – an opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their families. But many are subject to high recruitment fees, personal debt, complicated recruitment processes, lack of transparency about their eventual working conditions, and inadequate legal protections.
Verité‘s research in Indonesia initially aimed to assess the circumstances surrounding forced labor on fishing platforms (jermals) in North Sumatra province. This research was subsequently expanded to examine small-boat anchovy fishing in North Sumatra, and blast fishing in South Sulawesi province.

The Philippines ranks second in the world for tuna caught and fifth in canned tuna production. This research was carried out in General Santos City, which is known as the ―Tuna Capital of the Philippines. Due in part to overfishing, yields and profits have been decreasing over the past several years.

The phenomenon of trafficking for labor exploitation is importantly played out in the Philippines, which has the second highest rate of employment of its citizens abroad in the world.

One of the greatest “exports” of the Philippines is manpower. The Philippines has been a source of male workers for almost all parts of the world, particularly the Middle East, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, North America, and Europe. However, certain workforce mechanisms and policies in these developed countries exploit the vulnerabilities of male Filipino workers (OFWs) overseas.