Monday, May 30, 2005

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. #

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