PSI Symposium on the German-Philippines Bilateral Agreement for Health Workers

15 July 2015
More than 60 representatives from trade unions, government agencies, employers, recruiters and civil society organizations came together in a symposium organized by PSI to discuss the German-Philippines Bilateral Labor Agreement (BLA) for health workers.

The Philippines is a major source country of migrant workers, a huge number of whom are nurses, and health and care workers. PSI represents around 7 million health and social care workers globally, or one-third of its membership.

The symposium was organized by PSI to highlight and disseminate best practices in promoting decent work and social protection for migrant workers and is part of PSI’s Project on Decent Work and Social Protection for Migrant Workers in the Public Services.

Signed in March 2013, the Germany-Philippines BLA facilitates the entry of Filipino nurses to the German health care system through a government-to-government hiring scheme. Among its salient features include ethical recruitment of Filipino workers, national treatment for foreign health professionals and human resource development cooperation. 

The Germany-Philippines BLA is also unique as it established a Joint Committee responsible for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the agreement involving the trade unions, the first of its kind.

This Joint Committee is comprised of key ministries of labor and health and trade union representatives from both Germany and the Philippines. PSI’s German trade union affiliate, Ver.di, with its 2.3 million members and the largest trade union organization in the world, along with PSI’s Philippine trade union affiliate PSLINK, are active members of the Joint Committee.

“We see the Germany-Philippines BLA as an existing good practice in the international recruitment of health workers as it is based on UN and ILO norms and standards as well as ethical recruitment principles such as transparency, non-discrimination and mutual reciprocity,” says Herbert Beck, trade union official of Ver.di.

“It ensures the right to decent work and social protection of migrant health workers and provides for safeguards to sustain the health system of the source country. For instance, the BLA promotes cooperation on human resource development ensuring that the source country is able to train and sustain the skills needed in the country.  While dealing with the migration of health workers in view of the protection of their rights, we must at the same time ensure that we have the sufficient number of workers critical to deliver quality public health services,” says Beck.

PSI remains committed to promoting rights-based migration, decent work, and social protection while providing quality public services for all.

Actively involved are all the PSI affiliates in the Philippines Philippines Alliance of Government Workers in the Water Sector (AGWWAS), Alliance of Filipino Workers (AFW), Confederation of Independent Unions in the Public Sector (CIU), Manila Water Employees Union (MWEU), Maynilad Water Supervisors Association (MWSA), Philippine Government Employees Association (PGEA), Philippine Independent Public Sector Employees Association (PIPSEA), Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK). Joining them are sister unions TEHY of Finland and the German affiliate Ver.di.

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