Attention Ministry of Health. In September 2008, a Kuwaiti company hired about 30 Filipinos from Manila to work as cleaners, but ten of them (females) were disposed to some private clinics and hospitals and homes to work as assistant nurses. The ten Filipinas and 20 male cleaners, have filed complaints at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Jabriya recently against their company for alleged violations of their contracts. They arrived on Sept 17, 2008, got training for three weeks and were disposed to homes, clinics and sometimes hospitals to attend to sick patients. At first, according to the group, they refused to perform the risky task, as they have no experience on the job, but the management promised a temporary job until a cleaning task opened.
The problem is we did not study any medical care service back in the Philippines. We were hired as cleaners, so we were expecting to perform cleaning jobs. But when we arrived here, they (the local company) immediately told us to undergo training. After three weeks, we were told to tend to patients,” said Marilou, one of the complainants.
She said she has handled cases like patients with hypertension, injected drugs for diabetic patients and provided food through the stomach. She insisted that these tasks were only learned during the three week training period which the company conducted immediately upon their arrival in September 2008.
The company promised their jobs as assistant nurses was temporary, yet they have now been practicing their jobs for almost a year. “We started our jobs as nurses in October of 2008. We were afraid that maybe we would kill patients for lack of knowledge in caring for patients and that it would be a problem for us. God forbid, if a patient died in our arms and they complained to the police, we would land up in jail, and I don’t know if they can help us,” Marilou said.
The female cleaners turned nurses also complained of receiving KD 80 per month instead of KD 110, which is the standard for any Filipino performing menial jobs overseas. “We signed a KD 100 plus KD 10 allowance, but all we receive is KD 70 plus 10. If we have overtime, we can take home about KD 90. But that amount is less compared to what we signed in Manila,” Marilou stressed.
Male cleaners have also complained of not receiving the KD 110 salary which they signed back in Manila. “We are supposed to get KD 110 as well, but all we get is KD 70,” one of the male workers said to this Kuwait Times reporter.
On September 2, 2008, Philippine Labor Attach頴o Kuwait, Josephus Jimenez, called for a meeting with the management of the said company and Filipino workers. The Deputy General Manager of the company attended the proceeding in front of the labor attach頡nd the 30 complainants. The general manager admitted underpayment, but he explained that the company only agreed to a KD 70 salary and not the KD 110 which the workers were claiming.
We signed it (the contract with KD 110 salary) because they told me it was just a formality. So I signed it. Otherwise, everybody knows about it, even the embassy, for formality’s sake that is why they’re doing this,” the deputy general manager told Jimenez.
But Jimenez told the officer that everything that is singed under the Philippine government and his office is real and should be followed accordingly.
Engineer, I just want to correct you. You cannot speak for the embassy. I will speak for the embassy. The embassy insists that what was signed in the contract should be followed. If that is your belief (formality per se) that is your opinion. That is not what the embassy and our government says. The embassy believes on the contract it approved. If your agency is not telling the truth, then the agency should be punished,” he said.
The company officer insisted that they have signed under their (Philippine) agency, but he explained that recruitment is always carried out by private companies and not government-owned companies.
We have no agency. We are the government and we do not own the agency. They are private entities. And as a government, we are going to punish an agency that tells workers to work as cleaners and eventually exposed them to legal problems by requiring them to work as medical service providers. If the agency submitted here a contract, they are duty bound under the law of the Philippines and Kuwait to uphold the contract.
We are going to exercise the power of the government against the agency. Now it’s between the agency and the employer. The employer is now saying that they only approved a salary contract for KD 70, but the submitted document in the embassy says KD 110 plus 10. Therefore, the agency is liable and you have to explain yourself here because you signed the same documents we are talking about,” Jimenez said.
During the meeting, the company agreed to send the workers home if they want to and if they want to transfer that could also be arranged with the company. But the workers claimed the promise of the deputy general manager was not honored once again.
If this problem is not resolved, we will no longer allow this company to hire Filipino workers. But we’re giving them due process to explain and we’ve waited too long. We’ve been calling up the company, texting them, sending them fax and emails but the company has continued to ignore us. For all agencies proven to have committed contract substitution, this is a grave offense under the labor code and the Migrant Workers Act and it’s one of the prohibited acts that constitute illegal recruitment. Since the
number of victims is three or more, this is a grand scale tantamount to economic sabotage,” Jimenez mentioned. He said that the Philippine Overseas Labor Office has set another meeting on Sept 28 and he noted that appropriate action will be taken by his office after the meeting.
Source : Ben Garcia