OFW contract substitutions rising in UAE; migrant groups accusing PH government of ‘slacking’
A migrant’s organization accused the Philippine government of negligence in protecting the rights of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), reporting rising cases of contract substitutions and other labor rights violations.
Migrante Middle East said it is disturbed that Philippine-based manpower services and UAE employers are increasingly substituting and revising master contracts of Filipino cleaning services workers without their consent.
“It is dismaying to know this is happening despite the numerous, cumbersome requirements most OFWs have to go through and abide by which, the state claims, are supposed to protect Filipino migrant workers,” the group added.
Migrante Middle East said it had noticed a rise in contract substitution complaints since early 2020.
Majority of OFWs victimized by the violation are directly hired in the Philippines through Philippine Overseas Employment Administration job orders, it said.
“In all cases, the cleaners suffered multiple labor malpractices. Grueling extended working hours without overtime pay and proper rest, unjust salary deductions, and other unlawful company policies superseding the local labor law were imposed upon the employees,” the group reported.
“In addition, the service workers endured verbal and mental abuse and sexual harassment. Needless to say, these conditions had adverse effects on the employees, both physically and mentally. Sadly, some have even resulted in death,” it added.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said there are an estimated 1.83 million OFWs worldwide in 2021, 60.2 percent of whom are women.
The UAE is host to 14.4 percent of OFWs, the second biggest country of work for migrant Filipino workers worldwide after Saudi Araibia.
The PSA added that 40 percent of jobs given to OFWs are “elementary occupations” that involve, among others, cleaning and basic maintenance in households and hotels.
Migrante Middle East said it calls upon the Philippine government and its local representatives to take a hard look at the plight of the OFWs in the cleaning sector and take immediate action against the “unscrupulous agencies” involved.
“Holding guilty parties liable is only but a part. We also challenge the respective Philippine authorities to devise preventive and long-lasting solutions to ensure and uphold the rights and welfare of Filipino migrant workers,” the group said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)