Filipinos in GreeceFeb 11th, 2009 | By pam | Category: News
According to the Greek National Statistical Service, there were 6,465 Filipinos in Greece as of 1 January 2006. Of these, 5,616 were holders of valid residence permits and 5,115 were IKA (Greek social security) members. In addition, there are an estimated 40,000 Filipino seafarers on board Greek-owned or managed ships.
Of the land-based Filipinos, 5,046 (78.1%) were female. Filipinos are among the most highly educated foreign workers in Greece . Almost two-thirds (63.7%) are university or college graduates, including 0.4% with masteral or doctorate degrees. About 13.35% more – that adds up to more than 77% in all – have completed high school some of whom may have some college education. Of Filipinos working in Greece , 2.2% are in industry, 1.1% in agriculture, 0.7% in construction, 8.3% in trade and tourism, and the rest (87.7%) in other occupations (household service, etc.) Of the Filipinos holding residence permits, 4,007 (71.3% of 5,616) reside in Athens .
Many Filipino workers may have entered and worked in Greece – mostly as domestic helpers. In the 1998 Greek legalization program, 5,383 Filipinos applied for and obtained residence permits to shed off their irregular status. (The program was renewed in 2001 and 2004, but with fewer applicants). At the end of 2006, there were 5,616 Filipino holders of valid permits – an increase of 233 over eight years (since 1998) or about 29 a year which is slightly higher than the number of contracts processed yearly at the POEA. This indicates that the number of Filipinos with regular status has not increased significantly over the years. They constituted 0.93% of the foreigners’ population (predominantly European) in Greece , though still the largest from East and Southeast Asia , and 11th among all foreign nationals. Their legal status enabled the Filipinos to visit the home country. From 1998 to 2007 there were 16,851 OECs (known as “exit pass”) issued, an average of 1,685 a year. (This means the average Filipino goes on vacation once every three or four years).
Through the OEC and OAV, many Filipinos may now be considered as “documented’. In 2004, a total of 5,605 Filipinos registered as overseas absentee voters, and 4,673 actually cast their votes. In 2007, the registered voters rose to 5,908 and 1,837 voted. In both elections, the votes cast in Greece ranked second in Europe and tenth in the world, outside the Philippines . In 2006 and 2007, a total of 2,602 Filipino workers paid voluntary OWWA membership as a pre-requisite for the OEC. From 2005 to 2007, a total of 1,877 also became Pag-IBIG members.
The estimates of the number of Filipino seafarers aboard ships owned or managed by Greeks have ranged from 5,000 to 60,000. The first number was the one reported by the Embassy in its 2005 Report to Congress, whereas the second is the upper end of the range (40,000-60,000) volunteered by Interorient, the largest employer of Filipino seafarers in Greece. The POLO considers 40,000 as the most reasonable estimate.
In Greek-owned ships flying foreign flags, there were 1,225 (19.4%) Greek crewmembers, 1,115 Filipinos (17.6%), 671 Indians (10.6%), 411 (6.5%) Hondurans, 388 (6.1%) Indonesians, and 2,514 (39.8%) other nationalities. On board this type of ships, the Filipinos almost matched the number of Greek seafarers and even outnumbered them aboard tankers and passenger ships.
In sum, of the 30,920 seafarers employed, 17,897 (57.9%) were Greeks, 6,492 (21.1%) Filipinos, 780 (2.5%) Indians, 594 (1.9%) Hondurans, 496 (1.6) Ukrainians, 494 (1.6%) Indonesians, 113 (0.4%) Pakistanis, and 4,054 (13.1%) others.
All told, Filipino seafarers have a fair share of the crew in the Greek fleet. They comprised about half of foreign seafarers in the entire fleet, more than one-fifth of the crew in the higher paying Greek flagged ships, more than one-third of the Greek flagged ships mostly open to foreign seafarers (cargo ships and tankers), and three-fourths of all foreign seafarers in Greek cargo ships and tankers. Altogether, they beat their closest rival in Greece, the Indians, by more than 8 to 1.
From interviews with Greek owners, it was gathered that the factors that induce them to hire Filipinos are as follows: education and training, efficiency, and loyalty.
Working Conditions of OFWs
Land-based workers with valid residence permits enjoy the same rights as Greek nationals. They are entitled to the following:
1. Minimum wage: effective 1 September 2008: blue collar (including domestic service) – €31.32/day or € 783/month; white-collar jobs: € 701.00/month; effective1 May 2009 -. blue collar (including domestic service) – €33.04/day or € 826/month; white-collar jobs: € 739.56.00/month; Note: Blue-collar workers have higher minimum pay because of longer workweek.
2. Christmas bonus (one month’s pay), Easter bonus (half-month’s pay) and leave allowance (half-month’s pay).
3. Annual paid leave of 20-22 days (roughly a month).
4. Adequate medical and social security benefits for those who contribute to the local social security system (IKA).
5. Separation pay: generally, one month’s pay for every two years of service, a fraction considered as two years, up to 24 months’ pay; lower for those in domestic service: e.g., one month’s pay for those who worked for 5-10 years; about six months’ pay for those who worked for more than 30 years.
6. Overtime pay for work over 40 hours a week: plus 25% for first 5 extra hours (for 5-days-week workers or first 8 extra hours (for 6-days-week workers; 50% for extra hours beyond 5 or 8 depending on the workweek.
7. Night allowance for work between 10 pm-6 am: plus 25%
8. Holiday and Sunday allowance: plus 75% of hourly rate.
9. Note: Domestic service workers are entitled only to nos. 1-5 above.
Domestic service offers the best pay and the most transparently legal status for Filipino workers. Other jobs taken by Filipinos in less significant numbers are in the offices of foreign (so-called Law 89) companies and pleasure yachts. The foreign companies are actually Greek companies registered or incorporated in foreign countries.
Filipinos in Greece, therefore hope that Greece enlarge the annual quota of foreign workers, especially for domestic servants to enable more Filipinos – mostly relatives, townmates or friends of those already in the country – to come to Greece in the legal fashion.
The shipping industry is characterized by a shortage of officers and a glut of ratings.
Greek shipowners have complained about the difficulty of recruiting marine officers, even from the Philippines. The more enterprising owners, like Tsakos, have maintained scholarships for maritime courses in the Philippines – at $300 a month per student – and have been rewarded with a modest supply of well-trained and loyal officers. Yet the problem apparently remains. Some crewing agents, like Thenamaris, observed that the requirements for an officer’s license in the Philippines may have gone too high and have helped little in redressing the scarcity of officers.
The situation of ratings is different. The Philippines has so far been able to meet the demand of Greek ships for sailors, especially from cargo ships and tankers under Greek flag where Filipinos now comprise three-fourths of the foreign crew. For other ships, the Greeks have access to other nationalities.
A large number of Filipino workers in Greece have been here for ten years or more. They came before the first legalization program in 1998. Many are now nearing or have reached pension age. Understandably, they have been clamoring for a bilateral agreement on social security that would enable them to return and receive their pensions in the Philippines. The negotiation of this agreement has been on-going, but the conclusion is not yet in sight. (Maybe it is because, the Greeks will derive little from such an agreement. There are few, if any, Greeks in the Philippines who would retire and would receive Philippine pension should they return to Greece). Still, the agreement is the reward Filipinos hope to receive for contributing to the Greek social insurance system and for serving their Greek employers well.