Thursday, October 30, 2008

October 9, 2007

12 OFWs in Jeddah seek help vs abusive employer
10/09/2007 08:40 PM

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Twelve Filipino workers have sought the help of the Philippine consulate in Jeddah in dealing with their company that does not pay them just wages, among other complaints of labor malpractice.

Diosdado Rosello and Leopoldo Mayor from Paranaque City; Roando Dumlao from Quezon City; Jonas Maturan from Mabalacat, Pampanga; Melencio Magisa, Romeo Paraiso, Greg Dulay, and Manuel Viluan from Nueva Ecija; Florencio Pimentel from isaabela; Dinky Sotelo from Mindanao; Albino Sinoy from Binondo; and, Manolito Edica from Mindoro complained against Al Saadi Trading and Contracting Establishment in Al Mahad, Dahab, Madinah, Saudi Arabia for unpaid overtime work and other labor malpractices.

The workers also said the company charged them US$500 for their working visa and deducted medical insurance from their payroll but was not shouldering their hospital or medical expenses when they fall ill.

Their accommodation is also far from descent, the workers said. Six persons are assigned to occupy a container van with other nationalities.According to the workers, they were required to work 10 to 13 hours under the scorching heat of the sun without benefit of overtime pay.

The workers said they were not given salaries for the first three months of their employment, prompting their families back home to resort to loan sharks for their daily sustenance while waiting for remittances.Others who have finished their contracts were not allowed to go home.

The employer collects the workers’ iqama or residence permits.Last year, Albert Tambuyat broke his nose when he refused to surrender his Iqama to the same employer. The employer hit him with a cellular phone that landed on his nose. Tambuyat returned penniless to his family in the Philippines last month.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office at the Jeddah consulate promptly established contact with the Filipinos’ employer to inform the company of the workers’ complaint. The employer went to the consulate on Sunday and offered to raise the workers’ wages and promised to allow them to go home on condition that they would immediately go back to work.

The employer expressed his willingness to sign an agreement in the presence of Labor Attache Buyoik Nilong but the Filipinos refused to return to work and insisted that they be paid their wages and be reimbursed the illegal deductions because they already wanted to go home.

The meeting ended on a sour note with the employer threatening the Filipinos with arrest for abandonment of duty. They were likewise suspected to keeping company properties such as keys for the heavy equipment some of the workers operate.The Filipinos said they did not want to go back to work for fear that their abusive employer would only subject them to harassment and intimidation.

The workers said they would rather file a complaint with the Saudi Labor Court against their employer

Joseph Espiritu and Ronnie Abeto of the V-Team – Advocacy Group promptly coordinated with the workers to provide them guidance in dealing with their employer,Abeto promised to get in touch with the Manila-based Center for Migrant Advocacy for assistance in coordinating with the Philippine government agencies in providing assistance to the abused Filipinos in Jeddah. - Ronaldo Concha, GMANews.TV

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