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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Abuses, maltreatment swell during Ramadan -migrant group

Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East today said the number of run away and distress OFWs especially domestic helpers is rising during Ramadan, where many Filipina domestic helpers and migrant of other nationalities could not anymore bear the difficulties of huge household chores, sleeping late at night but waking up early morning, and are having only a single meal daily.


“Since, domestic helpers are living on their employer’s house practically like an aliping namamahay during Philippine pre-colonial time, it is expected that they too would abide the cultural practices of their respective employers observing the Holy Month of Ramadan and this would be very difficult for them to adjust, coupled with the inhumane treatment accorded to them,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.


Monterona said Migrante chapters in the Middle East have noticed a rise in the numbers of run away and distress OFWs during Ramadan.


Tomorrow, 11 August, would be the start of the observance of Ramadan.


“If during the past months, we normally received an average of 5 cases of run away and distress OFWs daily, we expect to receive 8 cases during Ramadan,” Monterona added.


Monterona said this is the same observations on last year’s Ramadan where the numbers of run away and distress OFWs surged to about an average 8 cases daily as documented by our Migrante chapters.


“Just yesterday, I received an email from a group of Filipino workers working for on a beauty center in Kuwait asking for assistance due to labor malpractice by their employers,” Monterona added.


A portion of the OFWs email said, “We are Filipino workers working in Ms. Raneem Beauty Center, owned and managed by Mr. Mohammad Rebhi Youshief Suleiman a Jordanian citizen and his wife Madame Wafa Al-Awad a Kuwaiti. We would like to take this opportunity to finally raise complaints on them in violating our human rights and even our rights as a worker in this country holding 18visa. Our complaints were listed as follows: Illegal recruitment – almost all Filipino workers were brought in Kuwait as Tourist visa. And when asked to sent them back home, they asked for 100 thousand (Philippine money) in each person as compensation to their expenses in bringing the person in Kuwait, No contract – all of their Filipino workers didn’t sign any working contracts with them. Or had any clear verbal contracts with them, All the passports of the Filipino workers were taken and being kept inside their house in Yarmouk.
- All of the workers in the saloon are not under their names as sponsor or
- Forceful signing in a blank paper.
- Working 12 hours per day or equivalent as 72 hours a week and sometimes more
than. And breaks are less than an hour. No shifting happens as it was written on
the documents from the ministry of Kuwait.
- No overtime pay. No additional pay on the day the workers worked on holidays.
- No sick leave. If it happens that the worker are not able to report for work
she will be considered as absent and it will going to be deducted on their
salary for that month.
- Below minimum salary that mostly the workers are just getting KD 80 to KD 100
a month without any commission.
- Salaries are not fixed. Varies from the amount of their work each month.
- One day off each week from 10am to 4pm. And usually at the last week of the
month were there is lot of customers we are forced to go to work. Without any
added pay.

We are calling your attention to please investigate the situation we are
involved in. We are almost 60 Filipino workers in here, living inside the
accommodation. And hopefully, this suffering that we are into that we have since
we came here would end. We are already frustrated and helpless with our current
situation; our lips are sealed with fear that we cannot bear anymore to have
another day in this place, to know who had been hit again from our fellow
Filipinas. We had enough. And now we are willing to put an end on Mr. Suleiman’s
oppression. Not just for us here but for the coming batches that would be
tricked also by their words,”
the workers said on their email to Monterona sent yesterday.


Monterona said Philippine labor department should be seriously working with counterparts host government to ink a pact providing protection mechanism for OFWs that would ensure that their well being and rights as migrant workers will be protected and guaranteed.


“We are yet to see what actions would the Aquino government to take in protecting deployed OFWs in the Middle East where most cases of abuses and maltreatment have been recorded yearly,” Monterona ended.




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