Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Employers Placing Women in Night Shifts Face Fines

Fahd Al-Ghaithi, Arab News/Al-Eqtisadiah
Tuesday, 30, August, 2005 (25, Rajab, 1426)

RIYADH, 30 August 2005 ­ The Ministry of Labor has warned institutions in the private sector that women should not work during the evening. An exception is made for those in the medical field where their job requires them to work at night or that they are in a continuous working shift in a hospital that requires them to stay all day.

Muhammad Al-Duwaish, the director of the legal department and labor relations at the ministry, told Arab News that the Kingdom had signed an agreement with the International Labor Organization which states that women should not work in the evening. He said that the signed agreement was for their own protection and not discriminatory as some say. Al-Duwaish said that institutions found not complying with the rule could be fined. The fine ranges from SR500 to SR1,000.

In addition, the authorities will be informed and the female section of the institution will be shut down.Commenting on the appeals made by some women in the medical field who earlier asked the minister of labor to exempt them from the ruling since their jobs required that they be in the hospital in the evening, he said that there was no need for such appeals because women in the medical field had already been exempted.

Al-Duwaish said other countries which signed the agreement would also comply with it and that the Kingdom was not the only country applying a no-evening working hours for female employees. “All countries that have signed the agreement will comply with it, including Saudi Arabia,” he said.

He noted that women should understand that the agreement was not to take away any of their rights but was instead to protect them. #

15,000 entertainers lose jobs in Japan

By Mayen Jaymalin
The Philippine Star

At least 15,000 Filipino entertainers have lost job opportunities in Japan and figures are expected to increase in the coming months as the Philippines continues to bear the brunt of Tokyo’s new hiring policy.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) showed a dramatic 38.46 percent drop in the deployment of overseas performing artists (OPAs) for the past seven months of the year due to Japan’s stricter visa requirements in employing foreign performers.

Based on POEA records, only 23,359 Filipino entertainers were hired from January to July or almost 15,000 fewer than the recorded 37,958 OPAs deployed in the Asian country during the same period last year. In July alone, hiring of OPAs declined by 73 percent to 1,664, a big drop from the 6,292 Filipino entertainers deployed during the same period in 2004.

Officials of the local recruitment industry said they are no longer expecting the total deployment in Japan to reach 30,000 this year.

"Most OPAs, who were deployed this year, applied for their visas before the implementation of the new hiring policy so we expect the hiring of OPAs to drop by half this year," said a recruitment official, who requested not to be named. He noted that only 291 OPAs were granted visas by the Japanese embassy since the implementation of the new hiring policy last March. "We used to have an annual deployment of over 63,000 OPAs to Japan," he added.

Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas admitted there has been a steady deployment drop, but noted local recruitment agencies are now preparing to undertake appropriate actions to enable OPAs to comply with the new hiring requirements.

Sto. Tomas also pointed out that the new policy is not singling out Filipinos, saying other foreign entertainers must abide by Tokyo’s new requirements as well. "It’s not that the new policy is biased against us (Filipinos) because it is for all entertainers (wanting to work in Japan)," Sto. Tomas said.

Earlier, local recruiters had warned of a possible drop in the deployment of OPAs as well as dollar remittances from Filipinos in Japan as soon as the Japanese government began restricting the entry of foreign workers.

The Philippine Association of Agencies Deploying Artists said OPAs annually remit some $1 billion to the country but the figure could decline dramatically due to the new hiring rules. The Japanese government is enforcing the new immigration law in an effort to curb the worsening human trafficking and prostitution problem in the country. #

Sunday, August 28, 2005

10% of Filipinos left RP as of '04

Tuesday, August 30, 2005
10% of Filipinos left RP as of '04
By Jimmy P. Abayon

SOME ten percent of the country's more than 80 million people or 8.08
million Filipinos have left the Philippines as of December 2004, said
the Commission of Filipinos Overseas (CFO).

Officials from the CFO were in Dumaguete City on Tuesday to conduct an
awareness campaign on issues concerning migration and intermarriages.
Of the total, 3.19 million are permanent residents abroad, said CFO
official Janet Ramos.

Some 79 percent are in the US, 14 percent in Canada, seven percent in
Australia, six percent in Japan, one percent in Germany, and 0.5
percent in the United Kingdom.

Ma. Regina Angela Gallas, another CFO official, said from 1998 to 2004
4,887 Filipinos from Negros Oriental left the country to work or live

Almost half, roughly 2,237, were from Dumaguete City.
From 1993 to 2004, some 1,692 Filipinos married foreigners of whom 696
were from Dumaguete City.

CFO also held a similar forum at Negros Oriental State University (Norsu).
Ramos said the number of Filipinos going abroad has been increasing in
recent years and that, based on the trend, it will continue to
increase in the coming years.

Some 55,137 Filipinos left the country as immigrants in 2003 and the
number increased to 64,824 last year.

She said an average of 300 to 350 Filipinos leaving the country as
immigrants register for CFO's pre-departure and guidance counseling
sessions daily.

CFO is a government agency catering to Filipino immigrants, either
through petition or intermarriage, and holds pre-departure and
guidance counseling sessions for Filipinos ready to leave the country.

The agency conducts annual awareness campaigns in provinces with a
high number of Filipino immigrants.

(August 28, 2005 issue)
(c) Copyright 2002 - 2005 Sun.Star Publishing, Inc.

Maid released TO lawyer custody

By Edgar C. Cadano
The Saudi Gazette

RIYADH -- Housemaid Nour Miyati was released Saturday to the custody of a Saudi lawyer hired by the Indonesian embassy, embassy officials said here.

Nour Miyati is now under the personal custody of lawyer Nasser Dandani, said Dr. Mohammed Sugiarto. The lawyer, however, refused to give further information when contacted by the Saudi Gazette.Sugiarto said the hearing of the case slapped against Miyati by the Saudi prosecutor would proceed in the local court while she is now free.

The Indonesian embassy has been requesting the Saudi government to release their national under their custody while Miyati has been recuperating from surgery that amputated of her nine fingers and some toes as she was afflicted with gangrene that she allegedly got from a beating.

Beaten black and blue with mouth and eye injuries, Miyati was rolled to Riyadh s Shumaissy hospital in March by her employer, whom and whose wife the Indonesian initially accused of torturing her and tying her up in a bathroom for a month until she developed gangrene.

She has earlier asked her employer to pay the 18-month unpaid salary.Miyati was moved to King Faisal Specialist Hospital after her amputation as ordered by King Abdullah who was Crown Prince at that time.

While at King Faisal Specialist hospital, an investigative report said Miyati changed her previous statements about being tortured and was charged for issuing false allegations against her sponsor.

Miyati was arrested at the hospital and transferred to Al-Nisa Jail for two days and later found out to have been moved to Al-Nahda Philanthropic Society.

Sugiarto said the embassy would continue to extend legal and other assistance to Miyati while her case is being heard.The Indoneisan government has resumed deploying Indoneisan workers last month after Indonesian recruitment agency and the Saudi Arabian National Recruitment Committee of the Saudi Council of Chambers of Commerce agreed upon some protective measures.

Industry sources said the agreement provides housemaids to be given a weekly day off, a monthly salary of SR600 for newly recruited maids and SR700 for maids recruited for the second time. It also makes it mandatory for the sponsors to bear the domestic help s recruitment fees and air repatriation ticket upon the completion of the contract besides providing her with adequate accommodation and healthy food.

The agreement also allows maids to perform Haj and Umrah besides receiving incoming telephone calls and meeting with embassy s officials if need arises. Another provision states that maids should be treated kindly as per the Islamic and Shariah rules and holds the sponsor accountable for any psychological or physical damage caused to the maid by her employer or any of his dependents.

It also makes it obligatory for the employer to provide medical care for the maid and in case she falls sick and is prescribed rest by the doctor she must get paid full salary. And if she dies, the employer shall fully bear the transportation expenses of the corpse. #

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Thai laborers riot in Kaohsiung

The China Post staff

Protesting what they called "unfair and unjust" treatment, more than 100 foreign workers, mostly Thais, staged the severest riot ever involving alien labors in Taiwan near Kaohsiung City. They burned houses, cars and facilities, and attacked police Sunday night before being subdued by riot police. No serious injuries were reported.

The incident occurred when several Thai workers returned Sunday night to their dormitory at Kangshan in Kaohsiung, the island's second largest City, with liquor and cigarettes, which are banned from the premises.

When they were prevented from entering the dormitory, the angry foreign workers who had been unhappy for a long time about the rigid and unreasonable treatment vented their anger by burning houses, breaking glasses, and throwing stones at the management staff, some of whom were beaten up, according to the police.

Riot police were called in to restore order, and the rioting workers sent delegates to negotiate with the human resources company that brought them to work in Taiwan. The negotiations went on until a little past 7:00 a.m. yesterday.

Witnesses said the workers actually turned the area into a "battlefield" with offices ransacked and extensive littering of burned garbage and beverage cans.

The management of Huapan Manpower Consultant and Management Co. estimated that the riot caused a NT$10 million loss to the company.

The government has dispatched Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) officials down to Kaohsiung and staff of the Thai representative office in Taipei also came forward to try and mediate.

By noon, peace returned to the Kangshan foreign workers' living quarters that were built to accommodate 3,000 people hired to build Kaohsiung's mass rapid transit system. At present, only 1,700 foreign workers, mostly Thais, are living there.

Thai workers were seen taking the initiative to clean up the mess they had created, while the construction work for the mass rapid transit (MRT) systems was brought to a standstill for one day.
Both police and prosecutors said they have started to gather evidence with a plan to charge those who led the rioting.

The workers presented a long list of 16 requests to improve their living and working conditions as well as payment terms.

They complained that the company, Huapan Manpower Consultant and Management, still owes them overtime pay incurred last year. They were only paid for 46 hours for every 100 hours of overtime, they said.
The workers demanded that they be allowed to use cell phones, that food quality at the cafeterias be improved, and that a satellite dish be installed so they can watch TV programs from their home country.

They also wanted the company to reshuffle managers who have allegedly been rough with the workers, including beating up some of their co-workers.

Another disgruntlement of the workers was that they could not take back food and daily necessities that were not purchased at the dormitory store. They called the restriction a form of exploitation.

Expressing his concern, Premier Frank Hsieh appealed to relevant government agencies to be lenient with foreign laborers, saying that the country should extend greater hospitality to the foreign nationals who are here doing laborious jobs that many Taiwan citizens would rather not do.

Noting that efforts should be made to regularly protect the foreign laborers' basic human rights and interests, Hsieh said that it would be a "bad thing" if the laborers' dissatisfaction or indignation with their Taiwan managers intensified to become a full-blown riot.

The premier said he has already directed the CLA to look into the latest incident.

Kuo Fang-yu, director-general of the CLA's Employment and Vocational Training Administration, said that officials from the Kaohsiung Police Department, the Kaohsiung Bureau of Labor Affairs and the Thai liaison office in Taiwan have begun investigating the incident.

Acting Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai expressed concern about the incident, urging all related parties to step forward to resolve the management-labor controversy as soon as possible.

Chen also called for the Thai workers' brokerage firm to mediate so that the laborers can resume their work to prevent the MRT project from being disrupted.

The Thai officials and Huapan executives, together with representatives from the local police precinct and the District Attorney's Office, held a meeting in the afternoon at the Cultural Bureau of Kaohsiung County, seeking to work out solutions to the problems.

The manpower management company eventually agreed to 14 of the 16 demands from the foreign laborers, who agreed to resume working today and allowed sanitation workers to enter the dormitory to clean up the debris from the riot.

Thai workers riot against `unfair' firm

`INHUMAN TREATMENT': Hundreds of Thai workers in Kaohsiung took the law into their own hands to protest what they call unacceptable treatment by their employer

Tuesday, Aug 23, 2005, Page 1

Published on TaipeiTimes

Furious with what they saw as inhuman personnel management, some 300 Thai workers in Kaohsiung set fire at the management center, a work dormitory, cars and other facilities Sunday night, police said.

Television stations aired footage of the workers clashing with police, attacking them with rocks and bottles in the overnight riot.

Several officers were injured by rocks shot with slings by the Thai workers, while one Thai worker was injured by broken glass in the dormitory, police said.

The riot began about 9:30pm Sunday at the five-story dormitory housing 1,700 Thai workers, who are building the Kaohsiung mass-transit system. The management company was hired by the Kaohsiung Mass Transit Bureau to manage the workers' living conditions.

"Some Thai workers clashed with management personnel, who tried to discipline the drunken workers who were shouting in the dorm. The management personnel stopped one Thai worker from using a cellphone and reportedly hit him with an electric prod," the Broadcasting Corporation of China (BCC) reported.

"The two incidents prompted the Thai workers to vent their pent-up anger at the management, so they rioted," it reported.

In addition to the bans on alcohol, cellphones and Thai television in the dormitory, the Thai workers were required to use tokens in the dorm store, but they allege they were short-changed when exchanging the script for real money, it added.

Of the 1,700 Thai workers in the five-story dorm, some 300 took part in the riot, setting fire to management offices and cars, burning clothes and hurling rocks at police who responded to the fire report.

Police, members of Thailand's representative office in Taipei, the construction company and the recruiting firms' representatives were involved in negotiations with the Thai workers to end the standoff.
Authorities yesterday agreed to the demands made by several hundred Thai workers, ending the confrontation.

But officials also decided to charge the rioters and deport them for starting the riot, which cost the employer at least NT$10 million (US$322,500) in damages.

"After three rounds of talks, the Thai workers have agreed to end their protest and return to work after the management company accepted most of their demands," said Fang Lai-chin (方來進), the director of the labor bureau of the Kaohsiung City Government.

The workers demanded that they be allowed to use cellphones, that food quality at the cafeterias be improved and that a satellite dish be installed so they can watch TV programs from their home country.
They also protested the management company's unreasonable methods of payment -- for each 100 hours of overtime, they are only paid for 46 hours.

The workers also complained that they could not take back food and daily necessities that were not purchased at the dormitory store.

The Huapan Co last afternoon agreed to most of the workers' demands.

Fang said the labor authorities will investigate the management methods of the company and will ask that the company dismiss supervisors treating the workers in inhuman ways.

Meanwhile, officials threatened the workers who took a stand against the company with deportation. Lai Chin-lin (賴勁麟), vice chairman of Cabinet's Council of Labor Affairs, said workers found guilty of starting the riot will be deported for violating law and order.

He said the council will also punish the employer, the Kaohsiung Mass Transit Bureau, for mismanagement by slashing by 800 the number of foreign workers the company is entitled to import to help it construct the transit system.

Asked for comments, Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said yesterday that local employers must try their best to protect foreign laborers' legal and human rights.

"These people [foreign workers] flew far away from their homes and came to Taiwan for jobs, and most of them are doing heavy-duty work, such as construction work. Basically, we should try to understand their feelings," the premier said.

"Employers should pay attention to these foreign workers' emotions from time to time, because it will be too late to do so when tragedy happens," he said, adding that he has already directed the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) to look into the latest incident.

There are some 100,000 Thai workers in Taiwan.

Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang

Monday, August 22, 2005

Workers' group urge RP government to protest alleged abuse of maids in UAE

08/22 3:21:00 PM

MANILA (AP) - A migrant workers' group on Monday urged the Philippine government to file a protest and review ties with the United Arab Emirates following reports that a rising number of Filipina maids are being abused by their employers in the Gulf country.

More than 60 Filipina maids have sought refuge at the Philippine consulate in Dubai, living in a makeshift shelter there to escape beatings and sexual harassment and seek unpaid wages.

Filipino women have been flooding into the fast-growing city to work as maids for as little as US$160 a month. But the influx has led to the number seeking shelter to double in recent weeks, with as many as five runaways a day fleeing to the consulate, labor attache Vicente Cabe said Wednesday in Dubai.

"The Philippine government should immediately lodge a diplomatic protest and review our relations with the United Arab Emirates in view of new reports of abused Filipina workers," Migrante said in a statement.

"The Philippine government must take immediate action to teach host countries ... that it is not right to condone abusive employers and leave guest workers without a livelihood, without food and without justice."

Consular officials said some runaway maids show up with bruises or allege sexual assault. Three men have been jailed in the Emirates this year for alleged rape of Filipina maids. With so many reports of abuse, Indonesia recently banned unskilled women from working in the Gulf as house maids.

Philippine Consul-General Generoso Calonge said he wanted his government to do the same.

Cabe estimated some 36,000 maids are among more than 200,000 Filipinos working in the Emirates. The maids work for local Arabs as well as expatriate European and Asian families. Nearly 2 million Filipinos live and work in the Arab countries on the Gulf, he said.

The increase in abuse cases stems from two sources: the burgeoning number of maids arriving in Dubai, one of the world's fastest growing cities, and the awareness that they can go to the consulate to report it, Calonge said.

The consulate is working with Dubai authorities to quickly return the women to the Philippines.

Dozens of runaways are stuck at the consulate-- with 25 sleeping in one room-- until Cabe or other diplomats are able to persuade employers to pay back wages and buy them tickets home. #

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Mission Visa helps hiring of skilled staff

By Nissar Hoath, Staff Reporter
Published: 16/8/2005, 08:11 (UAE)

Abu Dhabi: The Ministry of Interior yesterday clarified that the recent amendment by the Cabinet of an earlier decision on the visa and fee structure pertains only to a new visa introduced to facilitate the Labour Ministry's Temporary Work Permit. Lieutenant Colonel Rashid Al Khidhar, Legal Adviser at the Directorate of Naturalisation and Residence in the ministry, told Gulf News it is a completely new type of visa introduced to facilitate Labour Ministry's Temporary Work Permit, which is issued for a maximum of 180 days.

The permit by the Labour Ministry is issued for three months for a fee of Dh1,100 per person and can be renewed for another three months with an additional fee of Dh1,100.

"The new temporary work visa, which is called Mission Visa, will be issued to those who enter the country for temporary jobs with permission of Labour Ministry, and with specialised qualification," the legal adviser clarified.The new visa is issued for three months against a fee of Dh600 and can be renewed for another three months against an additional fee of Dh1,200.

It caters mainly to companies that require highly-skilled workers, especially in the oil sector, according to Brigadier Colonel Bekheit Al Suwaidi, Deputy Director at the General Directorate of Naturalisation and Residency, at the Ministry of Interior. He said companies will have to apply for it to the Ministry of Labour which may decide to issue the visas based on the skills needed and the size of the project.Earlier, companies used to bring in temporary workers and specialists on visit visas which is illegal, Brig Colonel Al Suwaidi said.

The new Mission Visa makes it easier for them to hire temporary workers without breaking the law. Al Suwaidi urged national companies to make use of the new system.Earlier, confusion pertained due to media reports saying that under the decision the fee and stay duration structures of the current three-month visit visa have been changed. However, it has not.

A visit visa is still issued for two months against a fee of Dh100 and can be renewed for another 30 days against an additional fee of Dh500.

Al Khidhar further explained: "All the existing visa types, including the visit visa, their fees and stay duration structures remain unchanged."He also clarified that the Mission Visa is not an expansion of the current Special Mission Entry Visa, which is issued to businessmen and tourists for a non-renewable 14 days against a fee of Dh220.

About the implementation of the Mission Visa, Al Khidhar said: "All the procedures have been finalised and it will be implemented by the end of this month."The introduction of the Mission Visa comes under Cabinet decision No 16 for 2005, which amends some provisions of decision No 6 of 1994 regarding the amendment and introduction of fees levied for transactions processed by the departments of Naturalisation and Residency and Traffic. It was approved last month.

The official also clarified that the citizens of 34 countries, including Britain and the US, are issued a 30-day visa upon arrival free of charge. Earlier, the service was provided to the citizens of Britain only.It entitles the holder to stay in the country for up to 60 days as it can be renewed once for an additional period of 30 days for a fee of Dh500.

Types of visaVisit visa: It must be sponsored by an individual, such as a relative, or an establishment. The application is submitted by the sponsor with all required documents. It is issued for Dh100 for two months and is renewable for another month for a fee of Dh500.

The citizens of following countries can get a 30-day visit visa free of charge upon arrival, entitling them to stay for 60 days and the visa can be renewed once for another 30 days for an additional fee of Dh500: Britain, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Finland, Malta, Spain, Monaco, Vatican, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Tourist Visa: It is available for tourists sponsored by tour operating companies and hotels. It is issued for 30 days for a fee of Dh100 and an additional Dh10 for delivery. This is non-renewable.Special Mission Entry Visa: This is issued for a non-renewable 14 days for a fee of Dh220 and a delivery charge of Dh10. Commonly known as a transit visa, it is collected by the visitor upon arrival.

It is issued to businessmen and tourists sponsored by a company or commercial establishment or a hotel licensed to operate in the UAE.

Mission Visa: The newly added type of visa, it is issued for the purpose of temporary work in the country. It is issued for a maximum of 180 days with a combined fee of Dh1,800. It is issued for three months against a fee of Dh600 and can be renewed for another three months against a fee of Dh1,200.

It has been introduced to facilitate Labour Ministry's Temporary Work Permit. An applicant must obtain the permit from the Labour Ministry first to get the visa.

Transit Visa: It is issued to travellers transiting through UAE airports. It issued for 96 hours and must be sponsored by an airline operating in the UAE. The visitor must have a valid ticket for onward flight. There is no charge for this permit.

Multiple Entry Visa: It is an option for businessmen who are frequent visitors to the UAE and who have a relationship with a reputable company here.

This multiple visa is valid for six months from the date of issue and costs Dh1,000. However, each visit must not exceed 30 days. The visitor must enter the UAE on a visit visa and obtain the multiple entry visa while he is here.

Residence Visa: A residence visa is required for those who intend to enter the UAE to live indefinitely with a person who is already a resident. It is issued to the immediate kin of a resident for three years for a fee of Dh300.

The residence permit becomes invalid if the resident remains more than six months at a time out of the country.Parents of residents are issued residence visas after special approval with a renewable validity of one year for a fee of Dh100 for each year. A refundable deposit of Dh5,000 has to be paid for each parent.

Investor Visa: It is issued to an expatriate investor in partnership with a local. The foreign investor must hold a minimum stake of Dh70,000 in the share capital.

Like the residence visa, it is issued for three years for a fee of Dh300.

Employment Visa: Employment Visa or Permit is issued by the Immigration Department to a foreign national who wishes to work for a company in the UAE upon the approval of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

It allows the holder to enter the UAE once for a period of 30 days and is valid for two months from the date of issue.

When the employee has entered the country on the basis of the employment visa, the sponsoring company will arrange to complete the formalities of stamping his residence. #

Monday, August 15, 2005

Solons slam Japanese officials for snubbing hearing on OPAs

Daily TribuneMonday, 08/15/2005

The Japanese government has incurred the ire of lawmakers, government officials and the overseas entertainment industry with its alleged deception of the Filipino artists who were earlier displaced with the adoption of its stringent immigration requirements starting last March.

The legislators, particularly members of the House special committee on overseas workers affairs, also lambasted the Japanese Embassy officials for ignoring an invitation to last Wednesday's congressional hearing looking into the plight of the Filipino artists working in Japan.

The lawmakers, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, were contemplating to declare the Japanese officials as “persona non grata” for conduct unbecoming of diplomats. The group felt slighted and greatly insulted over the foreign official “undiplomatic gesture” on a formal request from a supposed friendly nation, an ally and a co-member of the community of nations.

Eastern Samar's Rep. Marcelino Libanan, who called for the continuation of the inquiry, assailed the “lack of seriousness” on the part of Japan to tackle the current problems plaguing the industry that has adversely affected around 80,000 OPAs and hundreds of thousands of their families. It was the committee's fourth hearing.

The loss of an estimated $8 billion yearly contribution to RP economy through dollar remittance was also noted. He bared they were twice stood up by the Japanese Embassy officials. “Why do they keep on doing this to us? Thirty minutes before the meeting, these embassy people just cancelled their attendance,” a visibly irked Libanan said.

“Japanese officials are great liars. Their constant pronouncement that there is no numerical reduction in OPA deployment is another deceptive tactic. We were merely used as scapegoat to upgrade their category in the US State Department Trafficking in Person Report last year,” Maureen Advincula spokesman for the OPA Koalisyon, lamented, saying Junichiro Koizumi's government succeeded in that effort and is now up at Tier 2 or has made significant efforts to comply with the standard in the campaign against the global problem on human trafficking. “Kami lang ang sinangkalan sa isyu,” Advincula said.

A remark by embassy spokesman Shuhei Ogawa, alleging that 90 percent of Pinoy artists in Japan are involved in the flesh trade “is an affront to the Filipinas' dignity, a humiliating and demeaning tag, and the accuser has to explain for arriving at this conclusion,” Surigao Rep. Prospero Pichay said. #

Ministry Warns of Jail Term for Abuse of Maids

P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News
Monday, 15, August, 2005 (10, Rajab, 1426)

JEDDAH, 15 August 2005 ­

The Labor Ministry yesterday warned Saudi sponsors and employers against abusing maidservants saying they would face deterrent punishments including jail sentences.

Ahmed Mansour Al-Zamil, deputy minister for labor affairs, said his ministry was following up cases of maids who have taken shelter at the refugee centers under the Social Affairs Ministry.

He said employers who fail to honor the rights of their workers or delay payment of their salaries would be banned from recruitment and their applications at the ministry would not be processed.

“These arrogant employers will be jailed if their cases are taken to the Interior Ministry,” Al-Watan daily quoted him as saying.

He referred to the ministry’s efforts to settle disputes between employers and their maids. “If a maid agrees to resume work with her sponsor, a written undertaking will be taken from the sponsor pledging he would not violate her rights again. If the sponsor repeats the offense, he/she would be punished,” he explained.

The ministry had earlier announced the formation of a special department to safeguard the rights of expatriate workers and impose sanctions on employers who abuse them.

Al-Zamil said the Department for Protection of Domestic Workers would receive complaints from maids who have been sexually harassed, mistreated or who have not been given their salaries. “If it is proven that an employer has not paid his maid, we will ban him from applying for any domestic worker for five years,” he said.

The new move by the ministry comes after reports of recurrent abuses of maids by their sponsors in various parts of the country.

In a much publicized case, Indonesian maid Nour Miyati accused her sponsor and his wife of torturing her. She alleged that her employer tied her up in a bathroom for over a month until she developed gangrene and had to have some of her fingers and toes amputated. The woman later retracted her statements about being tortured and was arrested by police for making false allegations against her sponsor.

Indonesia sends the largest number of domestic servants to Saudi Arabia. The South East Asian country recently lifted a five-month ban on recruitment to the Kingdom following talks between Saudi Arabian National Recruiting Committee Chairman Waleed Al-Suwaidan and the Indonesian deputy minister of labor. #

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Expat workers seeking sponsor change before time 'must wait'

By Diaa Hadid, Staff Reporter
Published: 14/8/2005, 07:59 (UAE)

Dubai: People who want to change sponsors before completing the required time period set by the Ministry of Labour must wait until the Minister clarifies exemptions to the new sponsorship law, a senior source said. In late July, the Cabinet passed a new law conditionally allowing all people to transfer sponsorship.

In the new law, workers must stay with their current sponsor for at least one year, if they have a PhD or Masters degree, two years if the worker has a Bachelor's degree or equivalent, and three years for everybody else.

However, the new law allowed exemptions to that time period, provided that the new sponsor paid an extra Dh3,500 on top of all other official transaction fees.

Yesterday, a senior official, who declined to be named, said the Minister had still not clarified who would be eligible for exemption, and under what circumstances. "We are waiting for the Minister," he said.

This is important for many workers who want to change sponsors, but have found themselves under the new law obliged to continue working with their current sponsor until they complete the set time period.

The senior official said a part of that confusion was caused because the ministry wanted to apply all policies gradually.There are discussions within the ministry to allow desk clerks to approve the exemptions, rather than waiting for the labour undersecretary's signature.

"That's too centralised. Provided the current and future sponsor agree, and is willing to pay the extra fee, it shouldn't be a difficult operation to complete."Companies 'illegally bringing in employees'Companies are still illegally bringing in workers on visit visas for temporary tasks, instead of applying for temporary work visas through the Labour Ministry, a senior official said.

The senior official, who declined to be named, said the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs had authorised temporary work visas "about a month and a half ago", for oil companies in particular.

"These are companies who need specialised people for a specific task with a fixed time period," he said.The official said those companies had traditionally gone through the Department of Residency and Naturalisation to bring in workers on visit visas, even though the practice was technically illegal.

"This was meant to replace [that practice]," he said.But at least a month and a half on, the official said he did not know of any companies applying for workers through the new temporary work visa system.

The Labour Ministry and the UAE Cabinet recently increased fees for the temporary work visa, to Dh1,100 per person for 90 days. It can be extended to a maximum of 180 days for another Dh1,100. #

Friday, August 12, 2005

STARTING SEPT. 30 - Foreign nurses, midwives must take new program to work in UK

First posted 06:41pm (Mla time)
Aug 12, 2005
By Veronica UyINQ7.net

FOREIGN nurses and midwives from non-European Union countries who want to practice their profession in the United Kingdom need to complete a new overseas nurses program starting September 30, the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment said Friday.

London-based labor attach?Victor Julio Ablan said foreign nurses and midwives, including those from the Philippines, would need to register with the United Kingdom Nursing and Midwifery Council, the regulatory body for health care professionals in the UK, as a pre-requisite for employment in the country as nurses and midwives.

The program, which readies applicants for professional practice in the UK, consists of 20 days of rotected learning time?and possibly some period of supervised practice, said Ablan in his report to Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas.

At the same time, applicants should attain at least a 6.5 proficiency grade in the International English Language Testing System, he said.

For those whose applications are already in the pipeline, Ablan said a transitional arrangement would allow them to prccess placements in the UK through organizations approved for the purpose until the end of the period.

Filipinos in the UK number around 116,000, most of whom are nurses. #

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Saudi gov’t forms agency to handle OFW complaints

Wednesday, 08/10/2005

Cases of abused, maltreated and raped overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East are expected to drop with the Saudi government's setting up a special department that would address exploitation of foreign workers.

Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas said the government of Saudi Arabia created the special unit to handle and assist cases involving maltreatment and abuse of domestic workers. “The special department has been formed to safeguard the rights of guest or foreign workers and impose the sanctions on employers who abuse the workers,” Sto. Tomas said. While the Department of Labor and Employment has no exact figures on maltreatment, rape and abuse cases, Sto. Tomas said a great number of Filipino workers had been complaining of exploitation from their Saudi employers. T

he special unit was formed as the Saudi Department of Protection of Domestic Workers will primarily handle and assist foreign workers complaining of sexual abuse, maltreatment as well as non-payment of salaries. Jeddah-based Labor Attache Bulyok Nilong said a similar agency, the Protection of Foreign Workers, formed three months ago by the Saudi government has been receiving complaints from foreign domestic workers since its creation in May 2005.

He said majority of the complaints lodged by OFWs to the Saudi government involves non-payment or delay in the payment of salaries, as well as maltreatment and sexual abuse.

Meanwhile, Saudi Deputy Minister of Labor Dr. Ahmed Al-Zamil is hopeful that the establishment of the special unit will curtail the exploitation committed on expatriates. Those who will be found guilty of exploitation, Zamil said, face sanctions ranging from prohibition to hire foreign domestic workers for five years and payment of fines and penalties.

At the moment, there are an estimated one million OFWs in Saudi Arabia, more than 30,000 in Bahrain, over 60,000 in Kuwait, 20,000 in Oman, more than 35,000 in Qatar and over 170,000 in the United Arab Emirates.

Records of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration showed that on a daily basis, at least 3 OFWs return home mentally ill, while others report of having been abused. Marie A. Surbano

Monday, August 08, 2005

More Illegal Disbursements

OWWA Funds used to bolster Gloria’s image to OFWs prior to 2004 elections

News Release – August 8, 2005
Reference: Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson
Contact Nos.: 0927-2157392 or 926-2838

More Illegal Disbursements OWWA Funds used to bolster Gloria’s image to OFWs prior to 2004 elections In this season of witnesses and damning testimonies against the Macapagal-Arroyo administration, an alliance of overseas Filipino groups puts out new evidence of high government officials’ abuse of discretion and illegal disbursements of OFW trust funds held by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

“Newly obtained government documents reveal that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s operators in the Department of Labor and Employment and its attached agency OWWA authorized illegal disbursements of at least P23 million of overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) trust funds prior to the last elections,” MIGRANTE International chairperson Connie Bragas-Regalado said.

Migrante presented Executive Order (EO) 287 that directs the depployment of ‘social welfare attaches’ in selected diplomatic posts dated February 24, 2004. This executive order was issued by Macapagal-Arroyo to justify US$87,757 (P23,587,000) of illegal releases from the OWWA to the Department of Labor and Employment’s International Labor Affairs Service (DOLE-ILAS). in October 1, 2003 as specified in its Board of Trustees Resolution number 40.

This resolution also approved an additional P43,000 for bank charges. In fact an extension of another release of the same amount P23,587,000 is detailed in a Landbank check number 0000196909 dated June 17, 2004.

“The said amounts were to fund the Overseas Comprehensive Social Service Package (OCSSP) of the government. This is not a program of the OWWA. Therefore sourcing of this funding should not be from OFW trust funds at the OWWA.

The timing of the secret disbursements were done to put up an image that Macapagal-Arroyo cared for OFWs. But in reality not a single peso from the national budget has been allocated to any government program for OFWs as specified in EO 287,” Bragas-Regalado said.

“It is also an absurdity of deploying 7 doctors and 8 social workers and paying them overseas allowances derived from OFW money. In Saudi Arabia for example, 2 doctors and 2 social workers were deployed to serve 915,000 Filipinos in the kingdom, which of course, was to put up a semblance of Macapagal-Arroyo’s concern for OFWs,” Bragas-Regalado added.

Other diplomatic posts that received doctors and social workers were Hong Kong (1 doctor and 1 social worker for 180,000 OFWs), Kuwait (1 doctor and 2 social workers for 60,000 OFWs), United Arab Emirates (1 doctor and 2 social workers for 140,000 OFWs), Bahrain (1 doctor for 30,000 OFWs), Korea (1 doctor for 20,000 OFWs) and Taiwan (1 social worker for 110,000 OFWs).

“These doctors and social workers went around distributing tablets of paracetamol to OFWs at the start of the campaign period in February 2004.

Thus, the illegal disbursements mentioned aided Gloria’s campaign visibility but did not extend much-needed services to the owners of the funds: the OFWs and their dependents.

We call on Congress to investigate this matter and to exert the appropriate actions to punish those who helped a fake and corrupt president to disburse OFW money to steal the elections,” Bragas-Regalado ended. #

Visit visa likely to cost Dh600 from next month

By Nissar Hoath, Staff Reporter
Published: 9/8/2005, 08:22 (UAE)

Abu Dhabi: The Cabinet has approved the amended fee structures for visit visas, an official said yesterday. Under the new structure, an official of the Abu Dhabi Immigration Department said a visit visa will be issued for three months against a fee of Dh600.

It can be renewed against an additional fee of Dh1,200 for another three months.The official said the fees are likely to be implemented from next month.

The new changes come under the Cabinet decision No 16 for 2005, amending some provisions of decision No 6 of 1994, regarding the amendment and introduction of fees levied for transactions processed by the departments of Naturalisation and Residency and Traffic.The changes will come into force as they are published in the official gazette.

The official also said under the new structures, the stay on visit visa has been increased from 90 days to six months. "A visit visa will be issued for three months with a fee of Dh600, which comes to same earlier amount for a three-month visa.

However, the new change is that now visitors can renew their visas for another three months for another Dh1,200 fee, which means six months of stay," the official told Gulf News.Earlier, a visit visa would cost Dh100 for two months which could be renewed for another month at a cost of Dh500. T

he visitor then had to leave the country after 90 days of their stay and re-enter after obtaining a new visa. Now those who want to stay for more than three months can continuously stay for six months with a total visa cost of Dh1,800. #

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Malaysia issues new rules on foreign workers, says DOLE

First posted 04:40pm (Mla time)
Aug 06, 2005

MALAYSIA has implemented new rules on hiring foreign workers that would facilitate the employment and ensure the protection of overseas Filipino workers there, Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas said in a statement.

The labor secretary said the new rules, which took effect August 1, simplified the process that recruitment agencies undertake to get approval for the deployment of foreign workers to Malaysia.

“The new rules also mean that Malaysia’s economy is in need of more foreign workers who should be protected to sustain its growth,” Sto. Tomas said as she called on Filipino returnees from Malaysia to take advantage of the new rules to facilitate their return and employment in Malaysia on legal status.

It would be recalled that Malaysia earlier this year initiated a crackdown on illegal foreign workers. Following this, the labor department set up one-step processing centers in Zamboanga City and Bongao, Tawi-tawi to facilitate the acquisition of legal documents for the returnees’ re-employment in Malaysia.

At the same time, Sto. Tomas said the new rules now require that salaries of domestic workers for the first six months will now be paid directly to them. Prior to the new rules, employers remit the first six months salaries to the recruitment agencies.

The labor secretary also warned prospective OFWs to Malaysia to be wary of recruitment agencies charging fees more than 2,500 Malaysian ringgits (about 37,000 pesos), the cap on recruitment fees for foreign domestic workers that Malaysian authorities made.

She added that a worker who still doesn’t have a job upon arrival in Malaysia is also required by the new Malaysian rules to be provided with housing and a minimum wage by the agency that recruited her.

Friday, August 05, 2005

3 ‘maids’ slam aspiring envoy’s ‘oppression’

By Ferdinand Fabella
Manila Standard
5 August 2005

Three jobseekers who were forced to work as maids in exchange for jobs abroad have accused their employer, the ambassador-designate in Italy, of maltreatment and verbal abuse. The three complainants claimed that former Iloilo governor Emily Relucio Lopez, who is reportedly being groomed as the new Philippine ambassador to Italy, subjected them to humiliation and even seriously threatened them during their short stint as “trainees” at her residence in Dasmariñas Village in Makati City.

In affidavits filed before the Makati City police, Maria Isabel Lorecca Hernandez, Rosario “Lhot” Quiambao and Ma. Salve Serrano, all college graduates, said Lopez promised to hire them as her “household staff” once she assumes her ambassadorship to Italy.

But they were required to complete a two-month paid “training” at her house before they could go to Italy. “We were lured to the offer because she assured us that she would shoulder all the expenses for the processing of our papers and that, once we’re in Italy, we would be paid $300 a month,” said Hernandez, a graduate of legal management from the Ateneo de Naga University in Camarines Sur.

During a press conference in Makati City, Hernandez said she and her sister Serrano, a former OFW and graduate of industrial engineering, were introduced to Lopez last July 5 by a friend of Lopez who works at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. They refused to name Lopez’ friend.

“At first, we didn’t know that we had to work as maids but we accepted it anyway because she assured us of jobs in Italy,” Serrano said. It was only when they started working as stay-in maids that they got to know Lopez’ “oppressive attitude.”

Read more....http://www.manilastandardonline.com:8080/mnlastd/ContentLoader?page=police04_aug05_2005

6,000 Philippine doctors want to become nurses to get jobs abroad

10:50:07 AM

MANILA (AFP) - About 6,000 doctors in the Philippines are studying to become nurses so they can find higher-paying jobs abroad, the health minister said Thursday. This was up from 2,000 doctors who studied to become nurses last year, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.

The exodus of doctors and nurses had created a "threatening situation for our health care system" and a task force had been established to examine the potential impact, he said. The team was working on a bill which would require doctors to practice in the Philippines for at least three to four years before they were able to work abroad.

"I think the problem really is the migration of doctors. We have so many nurses now, more than enough to fill up (vacancies). But our doctors are leaving," Duque said.

A study by the University of the Philippines had found that between 2000 to 2003 more than 50,000 Filipino nurses went abroad to work, he said. A doctor working in a government hospital in the Philippines earns only about 25,000 pesos (446 dollars) a month.

A doctor could earn around 8,000 dollars a month while working as nurse overseas. Even lawyers, accountants and engineers are enrolling to train as nurses, he said.

Filipino nurses are in demand in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and even closer to home, such as in Singapore and Japan. Health officials have warned the country faces a "medical apocalypse" if it continues to lose its health professionals to jobs abroad. #

Thursday, August 04, 2005

OFW remittances to hit $12-B this year

By Donnabelle Gatdula
The Philippine Star

The government is optimistic that remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) will hit an all-time high of $12 billion this year. As of last May 31, OFW remittance had reached $4 billion, or 19.2 percent higher than the $3.3 billion posted during the same period last year.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director for planning and policy research Dennis Arroyo, who was one of the speakers in the Eagle Watch Economic and Political Briefing held at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City yesterday, said there were indications that the high level of OFW remittances would be maintained for the rest of the year.

He did not elaborate, though, on the OFW remittance targets for the year. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) deputy governor Diwa Guinigundo, who was also a speaker at the briefing, said they would rather stick to the 10-percent growth rate for OFW remittances this year, although there are indications of a possible higher growth of 19 percent.

"It could grow by more than 10 percent but we have not changed our targets," he said. The strong remittances were traced to an increase in the deployment of higher-paid professionals, as well as greater access of OFWs to remittance channels within the country's banking system. In 2004, OFW remittances reached $8.5 billion. Meanwhile, Guinigundo said the 10-percent import growth projection for 2005 was still achievable.

The BSP official pointed out that the request of the Department of Finance to review the import growth target of 10 percent for the year may be premature. "We have to wait for other data to come in. There is a task force organized to introduce these corrections.

I think there is no need to adjust import targets until the task force comes out with actual figures," Guinigundo said. Another government official said that according to the Development Budget and Coordinating Council the macro-assumptions for this year would be maintained.

Inflation rate, he said, would still be at 7.9 percent in 2005 and 7.6 percent in 2006 assuming that the growth rate would be four to five percent. #

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

NAIA ‘assistance for a fee’ will not curb illegal recruitment – MIGRANTE

News Release – August 3, 2005
References: Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson, 0927-2157392
Vince Borneo, Information Officer, 0927-7968198

THE MIGRANTE Sectoral Party criticized the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) for its move to charge fees for “special passenger assistance requests” – to provide additional passenger service and generate revenues, and on the side, curb the rampant illegal escort service practiced at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“The so-called Meet and Assist Service (MAS) at the NAIA is nothing but a sordid innovation to get more revenues from travellers and overseas Filipino workers. It is actually an additional burden to those who take air transportation and would need some help from airport personnel.

If the airport administration really intends to serve the plane-riding public, it must extend all types of assistance free of charge,” MIGRANTE Sectoral Party chairperson Connie Bragas-Regalaso said.

According to the MIAA, “the MAS can be availed of by private individuals and entities who are willing to pay a premium for a more convenient and comfortable airport reception/send off.” No specific premium rates were specified.

“The MAS is definitely absurd. All airports must be made convenient and comfortable for OFWs, their and the general public. This “service” is not very different from the illegal escort services that the MIAA uses as a feeble “side-reason” to justify the premium or fee,” Bragas-Regalado said.

“If the MIAA is serious in stopping the extortion of money from departing and arriving passengers by certain personnel and officials in the airport, it must crackdown on the entrenched illegal escort syndicate operating in the NAIA,” she added.

The MIAA asserted that with MAS, transactions can only be made with the Public Affairs Office (PAO) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) that has more affordable rates.

“Certainly, this new ‘service’ will not curb or stop the illegal escort service or improve the hectic and chaotic situation experienced by both arriving and departing passengers at the airport.

We suggest that the MIAA stop the MAS and instead institute pro-passenger and pro-OFW reforms in the operations of the NAIA without the intent of extracting more revenue from a public already burdened by high prices and more taxes by government,” Bragas-Regalado ended. #

MIGRANTE Sectoral Party
Office Address: 49 Mayaman corner Matahimik Sts., UP Village, Quezon City, Philippines
Telefax: (63-2) 926-2838
NEW Tel: (63-2) 920-3705
Email: migparty@tri-isys.com

Monday, August 01, 2005

Cruel stereotyping and irresponsible reporting

Press Statement
1 August 2005

MIGRANTE Europe is disturbed about a report which came out in a national newspaper in Manila about a supposed “Filipino-looking woman” who was tagged by witnesses, the British media and the London Metropolitan Police as one of the alleged accomplices arrested with four suspected terrorists in London in connection with the July bombings in that city.

At this moment, it has never been established by the London Police nor by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs that the supposed “Filipino-looking woman” is indeed Filipino.

It is totally irresponsible for the British media and the London Police to release statements by quoting witnesses speculating on the nationality of the woman. To say that the woman being led by the London Police after a raid is “Filipino-looking”, is, to say the least, cruel stereotyping. Even if the British media and the London Police had the best intention to report what witnesses have described, they could have been less cruel and more sensitive by just stating that an “Asian-looking woman”, instead of “Filipino-looking woman”, was arrested.

Despite this cruel stereotyping and irresponsible reporting, we believe that the very good reputation of the more than 60,000 Filipinos working in Britain as domestics, nurses and health care worker and the valuable contribution they continue to deliver to the British society remain undiminished and unquestionable.

We salute our compatriots in Britain and elsewhere for being true heroes.

Despite being confronted with abuse, exploitation and racism in the countries where they chose to work, and despite the neglect of their rights and welfare by the Philippine government, and the bureaucratic corruption, joblessness and poverty back home, they continue to work hard, to remain honest, law-abiding and able to sustain their loved ones and eventually, keep the bankrupt Philippine economy afloat.

Postbus 15687, 1001
ND Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Email: Mig_Europe@yahoo.com