Filipino Workers in Macau
Consul General Says Jobs More Important Than Rights
Philippine Consul General to Hong Kong Zeneida Angara-Collinson implied that jobs abroad
are more important than rights of Filipino migrants in Macau. This came out in a dialogue
held between the Con Gen. and Filipino migrants mostly coming from the Cordillera region
held Nov. 11 at the Morrison Chapel courtyard in Camoes, Macau.
The dialogue was sponsored by the Macau Cordillerans Association (MCA) and focused on
the standardization of employment contracts for foreign workers in Macau.
After hearing the statement of the MCA, the Con Gen. stated that what is most important for
the consulate is that Filipino workers should have jobs than none at all instead of looking for
an ideal situation (on their working conditions). She added that since the hand-over (to
China), the labor market (for foreign workers) in Macau has been diminishing.
She added that migrant workers should try to put on the shoes of their employers or their
management and try to feel if they could give the (best) possible deal (for their employees)
under the present conditions.
Mrs. Angara-Collinson also announced that the Philippine government has sent labor
representatives to Macau early this year to negotiate with their Macau counterparts in order to
come out with labor provisions to protect Filipino migrants. The Con Gen. conceded,
however, that because of the present (dire economic) situation in Macau they cannot push for
an ideal labor provision as this might be counterproductive.
She even stated that the Philippine government cannot dictate to the Macau authorities what
language to use in their employment contracts. At present, majority of contracts for domestic
helpers who comprise the most number of migrants in Macau are either in Portuguese or
A September 18, 2000 agreement between the Philippine Labor representative to Macau with
Macau Labor Authorities made English contracts acceptable but not mandatory. This puts the
burden on the translation of the contract on the migrants and not on the employers or on the
two government authorities that agreed to it. The problem with this is that it is only the
employment contract that is used by the Macau Labor Department and the courts as the sole
basis for determining whether or not a migrant worker has been treated fairly by an employer
because foreigners are not covered by the Labor Laws of Macau.
The MCA's demands to the Philippine government to negotiate with the Macau authorities for
better terms in their working conditions and benefits are not idealistic nor romantic. It is only
just and fair. The Con Gen. herself agreed that a standard employment contract should be
negotiated and that the consulate is working with Macanese legislators to come out with labor
provisions favorable to the Filipino migrant workers. It was also pointed out in the dialogue
that the Filipino community in Macau must be consulted in whatever suggested labor
provisions Philippine authorities are pushing for in Macau on their behalf.
Con Gen. Angara-Collinson, however, looks more concerned in promoting Filipino labor in
Macau and in the coastal regions of China. She stated that Filipinos should upgrade their
skills in order to become more competitive in the labor market abroad. Indeed, she is just
following the official line of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that Filipinos
working outside the country should just stay there and just send back dollar remittances back
home to prop up the (bankrupt) Philippine economy. The Philippine government is also intent
on targeting the export of a million Filipinos this year for jobs abroad. Need we say more!
Statement on the Need for a Standard Employment Contract in Macau
We are urging our government officials to immediately negotiate with Macau authorities for a
standard employment contract in a language that we can understand. This is especially true for
domestic helpers, which comprise the majority of Filipino migrants in Macau. We are also
asking our authorities to consult with us, the Filipino community in what the content of such a
contract should be.
The Philippine Consulate has been regularly visiting Macau and conducting Leaders Forum
these past several years. In a little more than a year ago, it has set up a Philippine Labor
Extension office in the enclave. What it has done so far is to make English contracts
acceptable but not mandatory. It is still the migrant's burden on how his/her contract should be
translated into English.
Ironically, the need for a standard employment contract was even suggested by two
representatives of the Macau Labor Department in a Leaders Forum organized by the
Philippine Consulate in early 1999. In said Forum, the two representatives named Mr. Da
Silva and Ms. Monteiro stated that labor rules are stacked against migrant workers and that
the employment contract is used by the Labor Department and the courts as the sole basis for
determining whether or not a worker has been treated fairly by an employer.
As such, they suggested that the contract should state everything involved in the employment,
such as monthly salary, sick leave, annual leave, bonuses, 13th and 14th month pays,
termination, resignation, salary increase, years of employment and so on.
Aside from these, we are batting for such a contract so that there would be a standard
minimum amounted allotted for wages and housing allowances of empregadas. Health and
accident benefits should also be clearly stated since medical services here are very expensive.
There should be also no arbitrary changes in working conditions and benefits made by the
In a dialogue held earlier this year at the Drop-In Center of the Morrison Chapel, ALA Victor
Ablan stated that he was just waiting for the Labor Code of Macau to be amended before
negotiating for a standard contract. But in an interview with Macau Legislator Antonio Ng
Kuok Cheung, the legislator stated that the Labor Code has been in the process of being
amended for the last ten years. How many years more do we have to wait for the Philippine
Labor Representative to negotiate with the Macau authorities for the employment contract to
We are also batting that migrant workers be covered by Labor provisions of Macau to get the
same benefits and rights as locals since we do the same kind of work as they do. We also
support the call of the Philippine consulate to authenticate our contracts so that they will have
no more excuse not to get involved in labor disputes involving its citizens in Macau. But this
should be free of charge, as we do not want to be financially burdened by an additional fee
being imposed on us by the consulate. This is especially true for Guardforce workers who are
made by their company to pay for their contract fees processed by a private firm authorized
by the Labor Department.
We reiterate our call on the Philippine government to immediately negotiate with Macau
authorities for a standard employment contract and include migrants in the Labor provisions
in consultation with the Filipino community here. This should be prioritized instead of
periodic consular visits made by the consulate that only collects fees from us for various
Macau Cordillera Association (MCA)
November 11, 2001
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrant Filipinos (APMMF)
Address: No.4 Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR
Tel. no.: (852) 2723-7536
Fax no.: (852) 2735-4559