Weeks before the United Kingdom’s referendum on its European Union membership, Allan Paracale sent an e-mail to his wife in the Philippines telling her to prepare to receive less. The overseas Filipino workers for eight years had a hunch that whatever the result of the referendum will have an effect of the value of the pound vis-à-vis the peso.
Sure enough, days after the UK voted to cut its membership to the EU, the pound’s value severely dropped, with its valuation sinking to as low as P60.8 per £1 last week. Paracle’s family already started cutting costs even before Brexit.
According to the Philippine Embassy in London, about 200,000 Filipinos live in UK, most of them working in the health, domestic and hospitality sector. The jobs were made stable by the UK’s flexible exchange rate, openness to immigration, and movement of workers inside and outside of the EU. While British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad has downplayed the effects of Brexit to Filipino, Philippine financial markets already felt a slight downward shift due to the exit.
Another OFW, Hazel Gamit, said she needed to work more extra hours to top up the amount she needs to send to her families back home. Her family in the Philippines now needs supplemental income due to the exchange rate’s instability and the stagnancy of her salary.
While many OFWs concurred, their opinions differ with regards to Brexit’s long-term effects.
Debbie Buhalog-Quintos, whose husband works as a bartender in South London, believes Brexit would benefit workers in the end, even if salaries and benefits will not experience the same boosts. Brexit promised to bring more jobs, increase pension benefits, and lower the pension age limit.
In spite of everything, some 80,000 jobs in the financial, insurance, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology sectors can be moved out of UK to other European countries as a result of Brexit if major companies lose passport-ing or the ability to do business with the EU.
Quintos said she and her friends who voted anti-Brexit are concerned the result of the referendum would affect her and others who don’t possess British passports, especially aspiring immigrants who wish to enter the UK in the future.