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Mar 28th
Home Sections Womens Section Controversy in Kuwait Over Filipino Caregivers Continues
Controversy in Kuwait Over Filipino Caregivers Continues PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Women's Section
Monday, 25 February 2008 17:33

It appears that the brouhaha that erupted in Kuwait over the alleged unfair-labor practices of the El Essa Company has continued. Two former Filipino caregivers, Ms. JosephineTuburan and Ms. Gemma Limsan, have accused an officer of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Kuwait of being bribed – without presenting any proof to substantiate her claim. Ms. Limsan called also the employees of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) as “monkeys,” which of course was uncalled for. Ms. Freda Contreras, the Kuwait-based advocate of Overseas-Filipino workers’ (OFWs’) causes and concerns, has taken up the cudgels for the POLO officer, Atty. Pol de Jesus. Hereunder, please find the e-mails from Ms. Freda, Atty. De Jesus and the original accusation, as covered by the Bulatlat, as covered also by www.gmanews.tv.

 

* * * * *

The www.mabuhayradio.com has published so far three previous stories related to the said case (incident) in Kuwait:

Filipino Caregivers in Kuwait: All Is Well that Ends Well

Filipino Caregivers in Al Essa Medicare Co. of Kuwait Are Restless

Two Woman OFWs in Kuwait Terminated for Complaining Against Unfair Labor Practices


* * * * *

Here is the e-mail from Ms. Freda Contreras:

Dear Labatt Pol,

Thanks for this your response to the Bulatlat news item. In fairness, the writer should take your side as well. Will look for a way to contact Ms. Makilan. I am copying a number of my egroups so your name won't be tarnished with the very strong and demeaning allegation that you have been paid by the El Essa Company.

Just keep up with your good work. I understand that you could hardly cope with the many complaints coming to your office but I know you to be helpful and conscientious. You always have been.

With my best regards,

Freda

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: pol de jesus <poldj51@yahoo.com>
Date: Feb 24, 2008 12:56 PM
Subject: Re: Fwd: [friends_of_freda] Bulatlat: OFWs in Kuwait stand up vs. employer
To: Freda Contreras <freda.contreras@gmail.com>
 

Dear Freda,

It is so sad that an honest and dedicated public servant like me will receive unsavory, unfounded, baseless, and irresponsible remarks from Ms. Tuburan whom we helped resolve her case.  If Ms. Tuburan believes that she has a good case against the company and her agency she has all the options to file a complaint against them before the NLRC and /or POEA and let these agencies of government resolve whether all her statements are true or not or she is legally right to what she claims rather than fingerpointing and spreading rumors and gossips.  She was claiming that she is a professional nurse, hence, if she is indeed a nurse, why did she apply as a caregiver with that salary? Why she allowed herself to become victim of Al Essa and then later on blame others for her misfortune.  It is VERY UNFAIR to all the people whom she was blaming and irresponsively accusing without proof. 

I denied all her statements being unfounded and they can ask if Al Essa paid any one in (Philippine) Embassy. It can not even pay her (Tuburan) a good salary.  She must present a solid proof or evidence to substantiate her claim instead of giving false statements.

As an update to the others who opted to resign, kindly be informed that  three (3) others left Kuwait  on  February 20, 2008, and they called me while they were at the airport and thanked me of what we did for them. The remaining four (4) are still under process and hopefully they can leave within next week. We are monitoring the processing of their exit formalities. The last two (2) caregivers who also resigned called me up and decided to continue working and I will follow this up with the Company.

About the case of 49 – and not fifty (50) – KGL cleaners, they decided also to continue working.  Upon our intervention, the company updated their salaries and provided them with a new accommodation in Omariya. The company assured the workers in our presence that they will receive their salaries regularly through (the) ATM.  Their salary due for February will be released before March 2, 2008.

We will keep on monitoring the compliance of the Company to all its commitments which were announced to the workers during our meeting on February 20, 2008. I also facilitated the bringing of some foodstuff for the workers in their accommodation. I also demanded tickets from the company for those nine (9) workers who have completed their two-year contract. 

Thank you for your continuing concern to our kababayans.

Labatt de Jesus

--- On Sat, 2/23/08, Freda Contreras <freda.contreras@gmail.com> wrote:

From: Freda Contreras <freda.contreras@gmail.com>
Subject: Fwd: [friends_of_freda] Bulatlat: OFWs in Kuwait stand up vs. employer
To: "Atty. Leopoldo de Jesus" <poldj51@yahoo.com>
Date: Saturday, February 23, 2008, 8:55 AM

 

Dear Labatt Pol,

 

Forwarding this to you for your information. It was alleged in the Bulatlat report that you were paid by Al Essa Company. Hope you can do a counter-report to clear your name. I'll help you circulate it among the online Filipino community.

 

Regards,

Freda

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants <apmm@hknet.com>
Date: Feb 23, 2008 3:18 PM
Subject: [friends_of_freda] Bulatlat: OFWs in Kuwait stand up vs. employer
To: friends_of_freda@yahoogroups.com

 

Bulatlat: OFWs in Kuwait stand up vs. employer
02/23/2008 | 07:29 PM

http://www.gmanews.tv/story/81920/Bulatlat-OFWs-in-Kuwait-stand-up-vs-employer
 
BY AUBREY SC MAKILAN, Bulatlat

"Wala na kaming tiwala kahit 'dun pa sa (POLO) Kuwait. Na-observe na namin 'dun pa lang iba na treatment." (We do not trust the Philippine Labor Office in Kuwait. We have already observed when we were there that they treated us differently.)

Despite feeling neglected by and losing their trust on the government,
Josephine Tuburan and Gemma Limsan were able to derive courage from their fellow overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who shared the same fate as them. Like them, they were also exploited but they chose to stand up against their employer Al Essa Medicare Company in Kuwait.

Oppressive work conditions

Tuburan was working as a midwife in Kidapawan, North Cotabato, while Limsan was a nurse in Tagum, Davao, before trying their luck as caregivers in Kuwait.

They already sensed that there were problems in their overseas
employment since the time they were about to depart from Manila last
April 2007. Tuburan said they were told by an airport employee that
their case was complicated because there were job postings for
caregivers in Kuwait, only for nursing attendants.

True enough, Tuburan said, they encountered a lot of problems such as salary deductions, unpaid overtime work, no days off, as well as
having to live with other oppressive company policies.

For 10 months, "nursing attendants" like Tuburan and Limsan received only KD70 ($256) a month, working 10 hours daily, with additional KD15 for two hours of overtime. This was way below the legal rate of KD120 and up. They work in homes or in hospitals, wherever their patient is.

The contract that they signed in the Philippines provided them with
one day off a week. Another contract, which they were made to sign
when they arrived in Kuwait stipulated that they would have two days
off a week. But when they started working, they were not allowed to
take a day off. "Hindi pa ibibigay 'yung KD15 'pag 'di ka nagtrabaho ng 15 days straight," (We were not even given the KD 15 overtime pay if we were not able to work for 15 days straight.) complained Limsan.

She added that they did not have sick leave. Whenever they got sick or went for a medical check-up, they had to pay the company KD1.

And although they were given KD10 a month as food allowance, the two said, they hardly ate right because they were only allowed to go out to buy their groceries twice a month. Thus, Limsan said,
"Nagkakanakawan na sa ref, syempre sa gutom 'yung iba kakainin na lang kahit hindi sa kanila." (Because of hunger, our co-workers ate
whatever food they find in the refrigerator even if it was not
theirs.)

Worse, Tuburan said, other OFWs, including herself, resorted to eating the leftover food of their patients just to be able to endure long
hours of duty.

They also complained of the long travel time from their hostel to the
facility. Even with a company bus, the two said, it would take them
three hours to reach the hostel since there were several of them being serviced by the bus. "Biro mo 12 hours na trabaho tapos tatlong oras na byahe. Magluluto ka pa pagdating. Ilang oras na lang tulog mo no'n?" (Imagine that, we had to work for 12 hours then travel for three hours going home. We even had to cook after reaching our hostel. How many hours of sleep could we get?) said Limsan.

But what bothered them a lot were the salary deductions. Their agency, Care Plus International Services, got half of their salary for six month – four months to cover their airfare and two months for visa
processing costs. When they needed to send money to their families,
they had to request the agency to make the deductions the following
month so they would receive their salary in whole. Thus, for the
succeeding month, they would not receive any salary. When Tuburan
requested for a stay in the deduction for a month and was already able to pay the delayed deduction the succeeding month, the agency still did not return her promissory even if she demanded for it.

Confirming her fears, the company, Tuburan said, made another
deduction from her salary for the same visa processing costs, which
was already deducted form her previously, plus medical expenses. What is strange, said Tuburan, is that they had paid for the cost of their visa processing before their departure. She added that her debt
reached P50,000 ($1,230 at an exchange rate of $1=P40.64) for the
processing of her papers.

They received their salary through an automated teller machine (ATM). They were not asked to sign anything and were not given a payslip, which is supposed to provide the details of their salary and the deductions.

Later, they found out that the company made a deduction for a supposed training that was conducted by the Ministry of Health, which never transpired. They were told that an earlier batch of workers was also charged for the same training, which never happened.

"Cancer" of the company

Once a month, workers held a "welfare meeting" with the company
supervisor to air their grievances.

But Tuburan said nothing resulted from these meetings because their
grievances were never addressed. Instead, Limsan said, whenever they complained, the supervisor gave them a piece paper and said, "If you're not happy, there's a white paper, put your name and resign."

The two told Bulatlat that the company terminated the contract of
workers who complained. They cited the case of a certain Armida Tusino who was sent home by the company for leading the workers in complaining against the malpractices of the company. Migrante-Kuwait said the Philippine Labor Office (POLO) in Kuwait denied that they received any complaints from the workers during that time.

While their grievances were ignored, they were charged from KD20 to
KD30 whenever a patient complained.

Limsan also said the company Al Essa earned a lot from underpaying
them. Al Essa, Limsan said, charges KD20 from each patient for 24-hour care. Even if they were assigned to take care of a twin or triplet and the company charges KD20 for each baby, their salary would still be the same.

"Sahod namin parang kuko lang, lahat napupunta na sa kanila," (Our
salary was so little, much like a nail, and almost all of the
earnings form our patients went to the company.) said Limsan.

Because they were not given the details of their salary and the
deductions, they suspected that they were being charged even for their accommodations at the hostel. This was later confirmed by a colleague.

Because they were the spokespersons of their group, Limsan and Tuburan were called by their employers as the "cancer" of the company. Their group composed of 11OFWs working in the same company eventually decided to file a complaint at the POLO in Kuwait.

To their dismay, Limsan said, the manager of the company told them,
"Nothing will happen if you go to the embassy. It's just a matter of
money."

But still they gave the POLO the benefit of the doubt. "Sad to say,
walang nangyari," (nothing happened) lamented Limsan.

Connivance of embassy officials?

Tuburan, who was the first among their group to file a complaint, was
asked to meet with Al Essa general manager Murali Nair at the POLO. But Tuburan complained that the company vehicle that was supposed to transport her to the POLO did not arrive at the hostel.

After that, all the 11 OFW complainants decided to stand as a group
and agreed to meet with the company manager only if all of them were present. When the time came for the meeting, the company vehicle that would take them to the POLO arrived late.

They later learned, Limsan said, that the company manager Nair and
POLO desk officer Adam Mosa talked in private before they arrived.

"Disappointed kami lahat bakit sila nag-usap na wala kami. Ano
pinag-usapan nila doon?" (We were disappointed that they talked
without us. What were they talking about?) said Limsan in a raised
voice. She added that Mosa was even angry at them and did not
entertain them. "Ma-feel mo talaga iba ang trato nila sa amin," (We
felt that they treated us differently.) she said.

Limsan said they told Labor Attaché Leopoldo de Jesus that based on the master list of the company, they were supposed to be paid least KD130 monthly but were given only about KD90 to KD102, but to no avail. "Bale wala lang sa kanya, lalakad-lakad lang, di s'ya nakikinig, kukuha ng tubig, magsi-CR," (He was not listening. He walked around the room, took a glass of water, and went to the comfort room.) she said.

But when Gil Librea of Migrante-Kuwait arrived at the meeting, Limsan and Tuburan said, they noticed that the POLO personnel became uneasy.

According to Limsan, de Jesus said they had no case and that
everything was just a misunderstanding. But Librea said that they
complained against clear violations of their contract. Since they met
Librea of Migrante, Limsan said, they would always inform him of their whereabouts, especially if their general manager would drive them to the POLO for a meeting or if they were asked to do something, just to make sure they would be safe. They heard that other OFWs ended up dead after filing complaints against their employer.

Limsan said she felt more frustrated when de Jesus's response to their complaint was to scold them for agreeing to receive KD70 when they should be receiving a minimum of KD120 a month.

"Bakit 'di mo ba alam, sir? Bakit ka pumirma?" (Why, didn't you know
about it, sir? Isn't it you also signed our contract?) Limsan asked de
Jesus. Limsan said the assistant labor attaché's reply was that they
signed just to facilitate the issuance of the visa. "Laro lang pala
'yung mga pirma nila. Papel lang pala ito," (So their signature meant
nothing and the contract was just a piece of paper.) Limsan said.

Librea was unable to attend a meeting set in the morning of Jan. 30
because he had to work. Limsan suspected that the Jan. 30 meeting was purposely set in the morning unlike the previous meetings to prevent the Migrante representative from attending. "Kaya pala tinanong ni De Jesus si Gil kung anong oras ang trabaho n'ya, 'yun pala 'yun," (It was no coincidence that de Jesus asked about Gil's work hours.) Limsan said.

In that meeting, Limsan said, Nair gave them a document in Arabic and asked them to sign it. They refused because of an earlier advise by Librea not to sign any paper offered to them. Limsan said de Jesus even tried to persuade them to sign the document.

Limsan instead asked them to translate the document.

"Nagtiwala kami sa kanya (De Jesus), 'yun pala..," (We trusted De
Jesus, but apparently he was not protecting us.) said Limsan in
dismay. The document, according to Limsan, stated that she and Tuburan has completed working for two years and that the company has paid all their salaries. Limsan and Tuburan just laughed, commenting that they were then only in their 10th month of stay in Kuwait. De Jesus did not react.

De Jesus even told them, Limasan said, that Migrante's presence makes their work more difficult. But they told him, "sorry sir, sila ang
nakakatulong sa amin." (Sorry sir, but only Migrante is helping us.)

When Limsan and Tuburan decided to bring their case to the Ministry of Social Affairs of Kuwait, de Jesus discouraged them by saying that
they needed a thousand KD for the lawyer and that it would take time.

Later, they learned from a Kuwaiti friend that assistance from the
Ministry of Social Affairs would cost them nothing. Instead, it would
be the company who would pay their claims. "'dun namin na-realize na nabayaran talaga. Pretty sure," said Limsan. "Alam n'ya na kung
puputok 'yun (isyu), damay s'ya dahil may kasalanan din s'ya dun."
(That was when we realized that de Jesus was paid by the company. He knew that if the issue became public he would also be held accountable because he was also at fault.)

Limsan and Tuburan were eventually terminated by Al Essa. Among the reasons given were alleged cruelty to patient and insubordination.
When they asked that their patients and the sponsors be called to
testify if they were maltreated, the company did not agree. The other
nine Filipino caregivers who were part of their group resigned.

In exchange, Migrante-Kuwait said, the nine OFWs were promised free airfare back home, their remaining salary for the month, a chance to come back to work in Kuwait with other employers, and the waiving of a penalty of KD250 (US$915) for breach of contract. The company also promised to provide the remaining workers a copy of their pay slips. There are 53 Filipinos and more than a hundred South-Asian caregivers in Al Essa, said the migrant group.

But the KD130 (US$476) reportedly deducted from them for their airfare to Kuwait, which the company told POLO was for training fees, was never given back to them, along with the unpaid two hours of overtime pay and days off and holidays, said Migrante-Kuwait.

The group said that caregivers in Kuwait earned a basic pay of only
KD70 (US$256.00) and a meal allowance of KD10 (US$37.00) or a monthly income of US$293, which is way below the US$400 monthly income the Philippine government brags as the minimum pay of household service workers.

The courage of the 11 OFWs earned praises from Indian workers. Limsan said the Indians are afraid because if they complained, they will not be given their whole month's salary. "Sabi nila sa amin, 'bilib kami sa inyong Pilipino, kaya nyo si Murail (general manager).'" (We admire you Filipinos, you can face up to Murail.)

Fight

After arriving at the Manila airport, Limsan and Tuburan requested the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) post there to transport them to the Migrante International office but they were instead brought to the OWWA main office in Pasay City. There, Limsan said, they were offered a lawyer but they refused. They said they have heard many stories of OFWs whose cases against their recruitment agency were just compromised by the OWWA.

"Wala na kaming tiwala kahit 'dun pa sa Kuwait. Na-observe na namin 'dun pa lang iba na treatment. Lumaban nga kami 'dun na hindi namin bansa, dito pa kaya sa bansa natin?"(We do not trust them anymore. Even in Kuwait we observed that they treated us differently. We fought for our rights while in Kuwait even if we were in a foreign country, why would we not fight here?) Limsan said with conviction.

Now at the Migrante office, Limsan and Tuburan, are following up their request for airfare to be able to go home to their families in
Mindanao. But Limsan was annoyed when an OWWA personnel told her, "gusto n'yo sa Migrante tapos ngayon hihingi kayo ng pera pauwi sa amin." (You wanted to be with Migrante and you are asking us for money to go back home.)

"Ba't ba nagagalit 'tong unggoy na 'to pera naman namin sinasahod sa kanila!" (Why shouldn't we be angry at that monkey when it is our
money that is being used to pay their salaries.) Limsan lashed back.

"May pondo naman bakit ayaw nila irelease?" (There are funds, why
don't they release it?) asked Tuburan commenting that the agency was only good at collecting fees from them.

The two plan to file charges against their recruitment agency,
Careplus, to fight for, among others, their salary for the remaining
14 months of their two-year contract.

More importantly, the two said, they would try to prevent and warn the
next batch of OFWs from working for Al Essa so that they would not
experience what Limsan, Tuburan, and the nine others had to go
through. "Ito rin ang request sa amin ng mga kasamahan naming naiwan 'dun (sa Kuwait)." (This is the request of our companions who were left in Kuwait.) - Bulatlat

==============================
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
G/F, No.2 Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR
Tel. no.: (852) 2723-7536
Fax no.: (852) 2735-4559
General E-mail: apmm@hknet.com
Other Email Addresses:
Managing Director : director@apmigrants.org / rbultron@gmail.com
Advocacy Program : advocacy@apmigrants.org / rbultron@gmail.com
Research and Publication: publications@apmigrants.org / ahc@hknet.com
Women's Program : women@apmigrants.org / ecbuhay@gmail.com
WEBSITE: www.apmigrants.org

 



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Last Updated on Monday, 25 February 2008 17:47
 
Comments (2)
1 Tuesday, 05 October 2010 02:11
May i know f this issue is resolve and had been settled by the government of kuwait and satisfied the claims for this individual. Is their freedom and rights had been concluded?
The issue stops? or stil lcontinues.........

thank you and may god bless us all!!!
We have an urgent opening with one of our client:

Position: Home Nurse / Care Giver / Care taker/assistant nurse

Qualification: Six months training program as a Care giver, first aid training, basic life support
Or recognized degree of nursing

Experience: 3+ years

Job Location: Kuwait

Organization type: Multi- specialty hospital
This Hospital is a Muitispeciality Private Hospital , which hosts a multitude of medical and surgical specialties and services staffed (professional doctors and nurses) with highly qualified and trained clinical and non-clinical workforce stemming from different origins.
Since we have multiple positions open for the same requirement, it would be highly appreciable if you can refer your friends / colleagues who are looking out for a job change.

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