MANILA, Philippines—Filipino applicants for jobs in Poland should think twice before accepting any offer.
The Department of Foreign Affairs on Saturday advised Poland-bound workers, particularly those recruited as mushroom pickers, not to proceed, citing many complaints of low wages and unfavorable working conditions there.
“There are approximately 86 Filipino women currently deployed or working as mushroom pickers in Poland. The majority of these workers are not happy with their jobs due to very low wages, unfavorable working conditions and substandard accommodations,” Philippine Ambassador to Poland Alejandro D. del Rosario said in a report to his home office.
He said these workers were not directly employed by the mushroom companies but through a Polish recruitment agency who subcontracted their services. The mushroom company, therefore, is not concerned with the welfare of the workers, Del Rosario added.
Workers are paid on a per kilo basis, which is dependent on the available mushrooms for picking and the orders received from customers. Rates per kilo also depend on whether the mushrooms are of first, second or third class quality.
In effect, there are no fixed wages for a mushroom picker, with workers’ monthly earnings varying from $150 to $500, the ambassador said.
Some of the workers said they were promised $600 a month by the Polish recruitment firm but ended up with a net pay of only $180 a month.
Del Rosario said Euroconnect, a Polish recruiting agency which works with Javier Manning, based in Malate, Manila, was responsible for the plight of 19 mushroom pickers who walked out of their jobs because of unfair labor practices.
Workers were also being made to clean the production sites and its premises, but were not getting paid for this additional work, Del Rosario said.
He said the workers were living in substandard condition, with more than 30 individuals sharing one dilapidated bathroom with limited supply of hot water.
“With a placement fee of about $4,000, the bulk of which is normally financed by ‘lending companies’ charging exorbitant interest rates, the deployed mushroom picker is deep in debt even before he or she starts work,” the ambassador said.
Last Dec. 8, the embassy repatriated 10 of the 19 mushroom pickers who walked out of their jobs. The POEA had persuaded the Polish recruiter to give them return tickets, Del Rosario said.
By Cynthia Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer