Sunday, February 3, 2008

Saudi OFWs blast Brion anew for lying

News Release
03 February 2008

On direct hiring memorandum:
Saudi OFWs blast Brion anew for lying
POEA MC 04 means exaction of new fees and abandonment of government's responsibility on distressed OFWs

Migrante Saudi Arabia today blasted DOLE Secretary Arturo Brion after the Secretary called the now controversial POEA Memoramdum Circular No. 04 setting guidelines on direct hiring of Filipinos as a move to “strengthen the protection mechanisms for overseas Filipino workers."

"Brion is once again lying," Bob Fajarito, Migrante Jeddah Chairperson said. "How can a Memorandum that seeks to enforce additional expenses on a system that has been proven beneficial to a lot of Filipinos working overseas meant to protect their interests?"

“Brion is definitely out of touch with reality when he says the employers will take care of burden, when numerous experience tells us this is not so," Fajarito asserts. "In this age of neo-liberal globalization, only a handful, generous and maybe philanthropic employers would dare take on the additional USD 8,000 burden without passing it on to the worker."

Basing on cases handled by Migrante KSA's Rights and Welfare Committee, even without this Memorandum employers in saudi Arabia have been charging various expenses on the OFWs.

Take for example the following cases from Migrante KSA's Rights and Welfare Committee:

  • The employer of Rahima Aiko and Zorayda Dukay, both domestic helpers now in custody of the Jeddah Consulate's Welfare Center, refused to pay their salary for months (seven months and three months respectively) and is now charging them of SR 9,000 each purportedly for the employer's visa and recruitment expense.
  • Syrel Morada was locked in the toilet for three days from New Years Eve and was given food only once a day for months but the employer wants her to pay SR 10,000 also for visa and recruitment expense after she sought refuge at the Welfare Center.

These cases, according to Migrante KSA are only the tip of the iceberg.

"With the Memorandum in place, Brion would only legalize what employers in Saudi Arabia has been doing all along~ charging their workers with expenses that employers should legally shoulder including iqama or work-permits, electricity and other utilities, accommodation, even medical insurance coverage," Fajarito closed.

Milking OFWs dry

Furthermore, Migrante KSA dreads the motive behind the Memorandum.

"Only two things are clear with the enforcement of this Memorandum: the present administration is hell-bent on exacting as much from the outbound flight of its citizens and at the same time, provide legal cover to its chronic abandonment of OFWs when problem arises," averred A.M. Ociones, Migrante Saudi Arabia Chairperson.

According to Ociones, the Memorandum is a follow up to the previous POEA Guidelines on the Deployment of Filipino Household Service Workers in 2007 which bled OFWs with additional expense on training and other requirements.

Add this to the fact that OFWs will now be at the mercy of recruitment agencies.

Abandonment of government responsibility

On the other hand, Ociones sees the "repatriation bond" as "another ploy to reinforce the OWWA Omnibus Policies which virtually erased government's (and OWWA's) responsibility."

“The repatriation bond," according to Labor Secretary Brion "shall guarantee the actual cost of repatriation of remains of directly hired OFW following death from any cause, and actual cost incurred for repatriation from other causes such as violation or non-compliance with the contract among others."

"First, they cleared OWWA and the government of any responsibility by way of the Omnibus OWWA Policies and transferred it to the recruitment agency," Ociones explains. "In turn, the Memorandum would effectively clear the recruitment agency of any hand on the repatriation of remains and OFWs in distress because POEA is pushing it to employers."

"But the employers would deduct the bond from the salary of the worker. So who's going to take responsibility for the OFWs in distress now?" Ociones closed.

And this, Migrante Saudi Arabia believes, is the most crucial question now.

A. M. Ociones, Chairperson ~ Migrante Saudi Arabia
Tel. No. +966-566-793-202

Bob Fajarito, Chairperson ~ Migrante Jeddah
Tel. No. +966 502-745-340

Other sources:
DoLE: Direct hiring rules meant to protect OFWs
02/02/2008 02:55 AM

Petition vs POEA Memorandum Circular No. 04
(A Signature Campaign Sperheaded by Migrante in the Middle East Region for the Immediate Scrapping of POEA Memo. Circular No.04)
Petition by Migrante Middle East, February 2, 2008

Migrante slams new POEA memo on direct hiring
News Release by Migrante International, February 1, 2008

No comments: