Monday, May 30, 2005

Labor dispute in Iraq resolved -- Palace

Posted 01:29am (Mla time) May 29, 2005
By Christine O. Avendaño, Jerome Aning
Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page A3 of the May 29, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

MALACAÑANG yesterday said the situation at a United States military camp in Iraq involving Filipino workers who had gone on strike to protest poor working conditions had been "temporarily resolved.”

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye did not say how the matter had been resolved but in a text message, he said Chargé d' Affaires Eric Endaya had gone to the US military camp and "as a result of his mediation, the workers called off [their] protest.”

"The President is closely monitoring the issue and she is satisfied that through the intercession of [Endaya], the situation has been temporarily resolved,”

Bunye also said in a statement.Bunye said the rights and welfare of the workers was the government's "utmost concern.”

"They [workers] can rest assured the government will always be there to help,” he said.Some 300 Filipinos employed at Camp Cook in the Iraqi province of Taji went on strike last week after complaining about working conditions.

The workers also asked for more protection from the heat and cold, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.The DFA said Endaya was able to convince the leaders of the strike to end their protest and return to work by promising to take up their grievances and concerns with their employers.

The workers are under contract with Prime Projects International (PPI) and Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), manpower and logistics providers for the US military bases there.

Read more......

RP must issue diplomatic protest

5/29/2005 8:27:00 AM
By: Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante Sectoral Party Chairperson

Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo must immediately issue a strong diplomatic protest on the inhumane treatment of US companies towards overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Iraq.”

We congratulate our compatriot workers for putting up the strike to protest the poor and precarious working conditions migrant workers are in the war-torn nation. It is also revolting to note that US firms Prime Projects International (PPI) and Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) are treating OFWs badly with regard to delayed wages, inadequate food and accomodations.

We also criticize the moves initiated by the Department of Foreign Affairs that “only aims to defuse the labor dispute between the Filipino workers and the two US companies.”

Again, the statements from Foreign Affairs secretary Alberto Romulo shows that the Philippine government concern for OFWs’ rights and well-being in Iraq is non-existent.

The two companies are manpower and logistics providers for the US military in Iraq. Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo must command her diplomatic officials to issue the appropriate diplomatic rebuke to the US government for the treatment suffered by Filipinos under PPI and KBR.

This shows the disdainful attitude of US companies towards OFWs who already are among the lowest paid expatriate workers in Iraq. Workers from western countries can earn hundreds of dollars every day, while people from Third World countries like the Philippines usually get just a few hundred dollars a month.

There are news reports that in one case involving both PPI and KBR, 12 people at the base were sleeping crammed into a room without proper ventilation.

In another case last year, a group of Indian men were recruited thinking they were going to work in Kuwait. They then found themselves taken to Iraq where they were stuck for months against their will.

The Filipino strikers were later joined by 500 workers from India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. This just shows that these US companies routinely violate workers contracts and are very exploitative in nature.

This is what the Philippine government must protest. #

Workers cry out for a better home

By Bassma Al Jandaly, Staff Reporter
Published: 28/5/2005, 08:01 (UAE)

Dubai: We are human beings ... and we need to be given dignity just like other human beings.

This is the refrain of thousands of workers housed in a premises in Sonapur, Al Ghusais. Workers of several companies live in the premises and these are some of the problems they face.

Twenty share one lavatory.Eight workers share a small room.

They have no recreational facilities. There is a landfill close by which kicks up dust.Khan, a worker, said: "After a hard day of toil, we need a good night's rest. We crave healthy air, but our premises is dusty. The atmosphere is unhealthy.

"Many workers told Gulf News that the roads leading to their premises are also dusty.The roads must be maintained properly, they said, because many of them have got an allergic cough.Another worker said they need a park to recharge their batteries.

"We are not asking for too much ... we need a small park. We are human. We need a few comforts too."

Read more........

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Labor secretary sees rise in seafarers remittances

Wednesday, 05/18/2005
Philippine Tribune

Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas is optomistic cash remittances of Filipino sea-based workers are expected to rise this year following the decision of JO Tankers AS, Bergen Norway to hire the services of additional Filipino seafarers.

The remittances are projected to surpass the $1.461 billion the Filipino seafarers sent home last year. JO Tankers takes pride in operating a quality chemical tankers fleet with 33 parcel, the third largest in the world.

Read more.....

Office to manage labourers suggested

Staff Report
Published: 17/5/2005, 06:37 (UAE)

Abu Dhabi: The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs should set up a unit to manage more than 300,000 construction workers in the country and ensure their rights are not abused, according to industry insiders.

They said this unit will help meet companies' requirements of workers efficiently, and will keep the workers employed throughout their contract periods.It is also suggested that the service of these workers should be ended if they remain unemployed for a certain period.

However, their salaries must be paid regularly and on time.

Read more......

RP nurses exploited in New Zealand

Daily Tribune
Friday, 05 20, 2005

Filipino nurses are reportedly being manipu-lated by abusive employers and immigration agencies in New Zealand, reports said yesterday.

The New Zealand Nurses' Organization has expressed concern that foreign workers, particularly Filipinos, are falling victims to exploitive practices of a number of employment firms in Wellington. The group cited incidents where two agencies have charged exorbitant placement fees for Filipino nurses in search of jobs in New Zealand.

It was also learned that Filipinos working at nursing homes are being paid significantly less than their foreign colleagues. The nurses' organization believes there are a number of unreported exploitation cases against foreign workers.

Read more......


By Sabria S. Jawhar
The Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH -- SAUDI authorities are planning to use ships and special flights to deport thousands of expatriate overstayers nabbed in the ongoing crackdown on crime in the country, an immigration official said.

Negotiations are being held between the Passports office and Saudia [the national airline] to provide enough seats on its flights and to open new routes for certain destinations so as to hasten the process of deporting the arrested illegals, said Major General Safar Al-Dosary, director of the Passports and Immigration department in the Makkah Region.

He said they will soon meet the director of Saudi Arabian Airlines [Saudia] and the Civil Aviation authorities to discuss the possibility of reserving more seats on Saudia for the deportation.

If Saudia schedules and capacity can t be expanded, he said, the Passports department would sign up foreign airlines for destinations not serviced by Saudia flights or to which the airline has limited flights and hence inadequate seat capacity.

Read more.......

Debate Rages Over Remittances of Filipino Overseas Workers

Bien Custodio
Arab NewsTuesday, 24, May, 2005 (15, Rabi` al-Thani, 1426)

RIYADH, 24 May 2005 ?Should Filipino overseas workers be made to remit their earnings home through legal banking channels only?Suggestions to make that a requirement has sparked a debate among Filipinos abroad amid reports that at least two gambling lords in the Philippines were using the OFWs, as Filipino overseas contract workers are officially known, to launder ill-gotten money.Malacanang Palace, the presidential office in Manila, wanted the investigation into illegal gambling activities across the country widened to include remittances of OFWs after a labor official warned that the new money laundering scheme could kill the Philippine economy.
Last year, overseas Filipinos remitted a total of $8.5 million through banks, making them the third biggest sender to their country after India and Mexico.

Cutting money remittance costs

Posted 11:59pm (Mla time) May 18, 2005

THE suggestion of Migrante Sectoral Party chairman Connie Bragas-Regalado that the government offer money transfer services free of charge is a very good idea. Another option is for the government to charge fees for such a service but at lower than bank rates and use the proceeds for developmental purposes. I remember reading that this is done by other countries that also have many citizens working overseas.
The government could also lead efforts to convince overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to invest parts of their earnings in a "mutual fund" exclusively for development projects. The OFWs would end up saving some of their earnings, instead of, as in some cases, spending them irresponsibly. OSCAR MANANSALA, 1983 E. Yale St., Ontario, Canada 91764 (via e-mail)

Is Tarongoy still alive?

Posted 10:38pm (Mla time)
May 23, 2005
Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page A16 of the May 24, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

HOW'S the fate of Robert Tarongoy, an overseas Filipino worker who was kidnapped six months ago in Iraq? Tarongoy seems to have been completely abandoned. He was last seen on a video that was aired by Al Jazeera television two months ago. Since then, little, if any at all, has been heard about his condition and whereabouts. It seems that his situation is deliberately being kept a secret.

Is Tarongoy still alive or dead? Is the Arroyo government pursuing its efforts to save Tarongoy's life? Or has this government already abandoned him and shirked its responsibility to bring him back to his suffering family? I wonder why Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and Undersecretary Rafael Seguis have kept their mouths shut on Tarongoy's case. There seems to be a news blackout on Tarongoy.

Read more.......

Malaysian jails overcrowded after migrant crackdown

May 25, 2005
Philippine Daily Inquirer
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysian jails are overcrowded after a crackdown on illegal immigrants, a report said Wednesday, adding to a growing list of problems caused by the anti-migrant sweep.Prisons Department official Zamzuri Ghani told the Malay Mail the nation's 52 prisons and detention centers were built to house 30,000 inmates but were holding 45,000 people, most of them illegal migrants.The revelation came hard on the heels of an announcement that a government scheme to bring expelled Indonesian workers back into the country to fill a large labor shortage had been abandoned.Home Affairs Minister Azmi Khalid said 11 one-stop centers to facilitate the return of the workers were shut down because of a poor response.

Sectoral group slams lavish lifestyle of RP diplomats

Friday, 05/27/2005

Sectoral group Migrante International yesterday denounced the lavish spending of some diplomats while a number of Filipinos are languishing in jails and are being abused by their employers abroad. This is the most terrible insult and gross insensitivity from the government officials towards overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families, Migrante Secretary General Maita Santiago said. It is infuriating that while the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) releases hundreds of thousands for diplomatic luxuries, distressed OFWs who need legal and other forms of assistance find it hard to get any help, if any at all, Santiago added. Such criticisms of the sectoral group was in relation to the admission of a spokesman for the DFA on the $10,000 a month Manhattan apartment being rented by a Philippine Consul General in New York, which he said is expensive.