Workers from the Philippines, Ecuador, Honduras and Peru living in the United States, regardless of immigration status will be protected by a new co-operation agreement signed by the US Labor Department.
US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said that there will be more information campaigns to inform employees of their rights and consulates will be offering advice regarding difficulties in the workplace.
The key element of the agreements is confidentiality, Solis said, adding that there will be staff available to investigate complaints. Information will relate to salaries, medical protection and US visas and will be translated to make it more accessible.
Agreements are already in place with Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic and officials expect to sign the agreements with more countries in the future.
Meanwhile, new foreign workers and visitors are being reminded about what to do in the hurricane season which is now underway until the end of November.
People are reminded to ensure that their travel documents are in order. Officials advise keeping copies of key documents including passports, birth certificates, work permits and drivers’ licenses and storing them in a safe place, separate from the originals.
Original documents should be kept in waterproof bags or containers during emergency situations, especially in the case of an approaching hurricane or tropical storm.
People who already have a family and business disaster plan and supply kit should review, recycle and restock. For those who are creating their first disaster plan and supply kit, they can find further necessary information from the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) and their new Community Disaster Preparedness Guide.
US forecasters are predicting a less active season of one to three major hurricanes but are still warning coastal communities to remain vigilant.
‘Regardless of the outlook, it’s vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane prone locations to be prepared,’ said Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which tracks tropical storms and hurricanes.
‘We have a stark reminder this year with the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, a category five hurricane that devastated South Florida in August 1992, during a late starting season that produced only six named storms,’ she added.
The NOAA is predicting nine to 15 named storms, with winds of 39 miles per hour, saying four to eight would likely grow into hurricanes, with wind speeds of 74 miles per hour or higher. One to three storms could develop into major hurricanes ranking category three, four or five on the five point Saffir-Simpson wind scale.
Over the last 30 years, the average hurricane season has produced 12 named storms with six hurricanes, including three major ones.