RIYADH: ABDUL HANNAN TAGO
Published — Monday 13 January 2014
Last update 13 January 2014 12:52 am
The Philippine Embassy here is verifying the whereabouts of 13 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) out of 30 hired as female janitresses.
Another 17 were reportedly deployed by Aces, a Philippine manpower agency, according to a source, who said that the 17 janitresses were deployed in Riyadh but were moved to Hail on Dec. 12 last year and are said to be living without any accommodation facility provided to them.
The whereabouts of the other 13 are unknown following their transfer to other employers by the Saudi recruiters. Maria Elizabeth Embry, a Filipino activist and advocate campaigning against trafficking of OFWs said she was in touch with the Philippines Embassy here and some officials in the Philippines on the matter.
A fellow OFW in the area said a man visited the 17 OFWs earlier in the morning and asked them to sign a contract paper written in Arabic, but they declined to do so.
Embry exchanged e-mails with Philippines envoy Ezzedin Tago who reportedly said, “We received a report on the missing women yesterday (Jan. 6),” adding that the labor attaché had asked the employer to meet with him on the same day. Tago said that the attaché was also in contact with one of the employees.
After another exchange of e-mails between Embry and Walden Bello dated Jan. 9, Bello promised to attend to this problem on a priority basis.
On Jan. 8, a contact person from Hail told Embry that the OFWs were still awaiting communication from the embassy there.
According to Embry, the Aces agency's recruitment license was canceled by the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). Even so, it managed to deploy those 30 workers to Saudi Arabia.
She asked the POEA chief as to how the agency which had no license could deploy the 30 OFWs to the Kingdom last month.
Recruitment agencies are also advertising their services online by announcing 100 vacancies in Dammam (Eastern Province) and asking for ‘Candidates, aged 21-35 (with or without experience) with a pleasing personality.’
In October last year, the POEA had canceled some unscrupulous recruitment agencies based in the Philippines for tampering work contracts. The move was made after complaints were filed against this agency by Filipino workers who had been deployed to Saudi Arabia as nurses but ended up working as technicians.
The workers alleged that a certain agency issued them two contracts: One was used for processing their exit clearance at the POEA while the other one was handed to them by the employer upon their arrival in Saudi Arabia. In the original contract, the complainants were supposed to be employed either as nurses or midwives in different hospitals but they ended up working as nurses or dental technicians.
The employment contract was supposed to take effect upon the OFWs arrival in Saudi Arabia but it was changed after their passing the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties Exam.
The salary, transportation allowance, food allowance and lodging stated in the first contract were also reduced or totally omitted in the new contract.