Sunday, September 14, 2008

'Employment sabotage'

12 September 2008
Middle East

(Press Statement issued by Migrante-Middle East chapters and member-organizations: Migrante-Saudi Arabia, Migrante-Jeddah, Migrante-UAE, Migrante-Kuwait, Migrante-Qatar, Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS-Migrante -Riyadh) and KGS-Al Jouf (Saudi Arabia)

'Employment sabotage': harassment of a new type to silence migrant rights advocates abroad critical to the Arroyo regime

On September 8, 2008, Migrante Middle East (ME) issued a statement on the illegal termination from work of Gil Lebria, Migrante-Kuwait chapter coordinator.

Migrante-ME believed that Mr. Lebria's termination from work is unlawful because it is without cause and in gross violation of Kuwait Labor Law and even the international labor laws. His termination from work is unexpected and dubious.

His immediate superior commended Lebria's satisfactory job performance. In fact his company Al Kharafi National gave Mr.. Lebria a salary increment this year; a proof that the company's management has recognized Lebria's valuable contribution to the attainment of its company's goals and accomplishment.

Early week of this month when he was verbally told by the company's administrative staff that he is terminated from work and would immediately be repatriated. Upon hearing the sad news, Mr. Lebria asked the staff what is the cause for his immediate termination, it has said nothing but advised him to talk with the company's Human Resources manager.

While working hard to earn for his children in the Philippines , Mr. Lebria is also an active defender and advocates of migrant rights and welfare. His active involvement and uncompromising stand in handling cases of abused, maltreated and ran away OFWs to ensure that OFW-victims rights and well-being will be protected and safe-guarded earned recognition and trust from fellow OFWs in Kuwait .

As a leader of a leading migrant organization in the Middle East, Mr. Lebria and Migrante-Kuwait issued series of statements and exposed embassy's neglect that put on the spot light the ineptness of Philippine Embassy officials widely publicized by the local media in Kuwait and in the Philippines. Without exaggeration, Migrante-Kuwait chapter under the leadership of Mr. Lebria is one of the active and respected migrant organizations in the entire Middle East region.

Migrant rights advocacy is not an easy task especially when those supposed to be the protector and guardian of OFWs would become detracting and furious when migrant advocates from Migrante like Lebria exposes their excessive neglect in handling OFW-victims' cases especially those who are abused, maltreated and aggrieved by their abusive employers. Instead of seeking refuge from inept embassy officials, OFW-victims have chosen to seek protection from migrant advocates and fellow OFWs whom they could be trusted and assured that their rights will be protected and defended.

Migrante-Kuwait chapter brought to the attention of RP officials in Kuwait the case of 20 OFWs who went on strike and were forced to scrounge trash just to eat and thus survive on their daily subsistence because their employer did not pay them their rightful wages; the case of 100 striking OFWs working for Al Jassim Trucking company because their employer did not paid their salaries on time, illegal salary deductions, not providing them medical insurance; the case of hundreds of jailed OFWs including the 40 in Kuwait Central jail where some of them are still waiting for their papers yet to be attended by the Philippine embassy so that they could join their families back home; the case of 10 nurses working for Al Orf Hospital who have received salary lower than what is stipulated on their employment contract; the case of mysterious deaths in Kuwait which Migrante has called on the Congress to investigate. These are only among the many cases Migrante-Kuwait brought to the attention of the public that put into test the capacity and credibility of RP officials in Kuwait headed by Ambassador Ricardo Endaya as the most inept RP envoy in the Middle East .

Even in the company where Mr. Lebria works, fellow workers have also their own agony as their company did not pay their rightful wages and overtime worked and over-extending its workers contract without giving them a vacation. Upon their collective actions, contrary to the claims of the Philippine Embassy that Migrante's Lebria has coerced them to execute a petition, the 32 OFWs working in Al Kharafi national sent their petition letter to its company's management which the latter has gave way to the legitimate demands of its workers (see attached petition of the 32 OFWs).

Migrante has basis to suspect that Mr. Lebria's termination from work was a handiwork of those who got fury with his expose and series of statements issued about the ineptitude of embassy officials who have been noticed to be negligent in handling OFW-victims cases. Only the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait and the POEA have the motive and power to coerce Mr. Lebria's recruitment agency and to influence its foreign employer to terminate him from work.

Sometime on September 2007, Mr. Lebria received an electronic mail from his agency in the Philippines, Globus recruitment agency, informing him that he will be repatriated as his deployment is the very caused why Globus agency's licensed was revoke and thus temporarily suspended by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). Globus electronic mail implicated that the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait through the POEA is pressuring Globus agency to arrange the immediate deportation of Mr. Lebria.

Migrante-ME believed this is part of a plan to harass, discredit, and silence migrant rights activists critical to the Arroyo administration through the POEA by coercing local recruitment agency, and through embassy officials to influence foreign employers to terminate or not to renew the contract of migrant rights activists critical to the Arroyo administration.

Migrante ME is calling all OFWs and their families to denounce what it called 'employment sabotage' by the Arroyo administration to migrant rights advocates abroad critical to the Arroyo administration.

'Employment sabotage' is harassment of a new type employed by the Arroyo administration to desperately discredit and silence migrant rights advocates and activists who have done nothing wrong only to uphold migrant rights, promote OFWs' welfare and to protect their well-being.

Migrante-ME vows to oppose and expose this new type of persecution orchestrated by the Arroyo regime through its ambassadors (read: 'employment saboteurs') against OFW leaders critical to her administration.

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