The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should give preference to some 6,000 Filipino workers forced out of Iraq when it comes to enlisting laborers for deployment to Guam, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said Sunday.
“On one hand, we have 6,000 workers out of Iraq. On the other hand, we have 7,000 to 10,000 initial job openings in Guam. The DOLE might as well give priority to our workers from Iraq in filling up the Guam vacancies,” said TUCP secretary-general and former Senator Ernesto Herrera.
“This way, we minimize the potential economic dislocation of workers and their families here,” said Herrera, former chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.
In July, the US military ordered its private contractors in Iraq to send home all their Filipino workers. This was ahead of President Barack Obama’s Aug. 31 deadline to end all combat operations and pull the bulk of US troops out of Iraq.
“The job openings in Guam are mostly construction-related activities and services anyway. And many of our workers out of Iraq were engaged to perform similar tasks,” Herrera pointed out.
“In terms of experience, many of our laborers out of Iraq, having been employed by American contractors for work in military installations there, could readily qualify for the Guam vacancies,” he added.
According to the DOLE, some 7,000 to 10,000 Filipino workers are immediately needed in Guam to build a new, $700 million US naval hospital in the Pacific US trust territory.
Herrera said Guam may need up to 30,000 foreign workers in the months ahead, as the US military struggles to quickly build up the territory’s infrastructure and services, ahead of the relocation of some 9,200 US troops and their 10,000 dependents from the Japanese island of Okinawa.
The foreign workers needed in Guam include project managers, engineers, accountants, duty-front managers, plan makers, cost-control managers, nurses,doctors, electricians, construction laborers, plumbers, welders, carpenters, brick layers, computer graphic artists, computer operators, audio-visual technicians, chefs, cooks, food and beverage managers, bar boys, drivers, receptionists and stewards, among others.