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Friday, August 21, 2009

Libyan firms open doors to distressed OFWs

Five (5) Libyan companies have signified their intention to absorb the
greater majority of some 131 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in
the host country, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) bared today.

A report to Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque indicated that
the offer by the Libyan firms came in response to the intervention and
mediation pursued by the DOLE'S Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in
that country to assist the distressed OFWs.

Media had earlier reported the plight of the distressed OFWs who accused
their employer in Libya of allegedly transferring their work site illegally,
and reducing their wages by forcing them to sign new contracts. In
particular, the group Migrante International indicated that while the OFWs
wanted Libya to continue being "a nice destination for OFWs," it also echoed
their need for appropriate intervention to rescue them from their plight.

The Philippine Labor Attache to Tripoli, Libya, Nasser S. Mustafa, said that
while the POLO had taken care to inspect the worksite and facilities of the
OFWs in Tripoli in accordance with its duty, unknown to it the OFWs upon
their arrival in Libya from the Philippines were immediately brought by the
firm to a project site located 1,250 kilometers away in Benghazi.

Nonetheless, Mustafa indicated that during their intervention, the firm,
called ERSAA, indicated its sincerity to assist in the resolution by
releasing the OFWs' passports to the POLO's custody, and by not posing any
impediment to the transfer of the OFWs to other companies. Furthermore, it
pledged to release the remaining salaries of the workers.

He added that onsite in Benghazi, Libya, the POLO had dispatched one of its
staff, Mr. Abdulaziz A. Ating, accompanied by a representative of Bison, the
recruiting agency, to oversee the OFWs' transfer.

As this developed, Mustafa said that the POLO had commenced the full
documentation of the workers while they are in the process of being absorbed
with receiving companies, which have offered to accommodate them on more
favorable working and living environments than their original employer.

"The process started with the Al Furusiya Contracting Company, which hired
11 workers who received a full month salary in advance as provided by the
said firm," the Labor Attache said, adding that eight other OFWs also
absorbed by the Amal Africa have been provided by the firm with 600 Libyan
dinars as advanced salary, with another 500 Libyan dinars sent to their
families in RP.

Based on Mustafa's recent report, in addition to Al Furusiya, four more
Libyan companies have also signified their intention to absorb the
distressed OFWs following the meetings the POLO had initiated with other
employers. He identified the four as United Engineering Company, Al Oula
Company, Amal Africa Catering Company, and Al Taqaniya Al Handasia Al
Hadeetha, which altogether offered to absorb a total 93 of the 131
distressed workers. Mustafa, however, indicated that 29 of the 131 OFWs
have firmly decided for repatriation back to RP, with the first batch
tentatively scheduled in August, and with the Bison agency ensuring their

On favorable terms, United Engineering Co. offered to absorb 24 of the 131
OFWs offering to facilitate the required residence visa, provide
accommodation and food, a two-year working contract subject to POLO review
with three months on probationary, and basic salary on the following scheme:
a) foreman - US$600 increased to $750 after probationary period, and b)
skilled workers - basic salary of US$400 increased to $600 after probation.
For its part, Al Oula Co. indicated its openness to absorb around 10 OFWs,
with residence visa, two-year contract, salaries in cash paid every month's
end either in US dollars or Libyan dinars as preferred by OFWs, free housing
accommodation, with the provision of food under negotiation. Meanwhile,
Amal Africa Catering Co. signified through its General Manager Ali Hakuma
the firm's intention to hire 35 of the OFWs, on salaries ranging from
US$400 - $1,000 according to performance, with 45 days leave a year,
advanced salary of one month with a portion sent to their families in RP.
Finally, the firm Al Taqaniya Al Handasia Al Hadeetha, through Director Eng.
Khalid, expressed willingness to hire 24 of the distressed OFWs with free
accommodation, food and transportation, residence visa, a monthly salary of
US$500 for skilled workers and $600 for foreman, 8 working hours daily and
leave every Friday, provided the OFWs work hard for the interest of the

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