DUBAI // The first migrants' forum for Filipino workers opened yesterday with organisers announcing plans to form a new committee to help protect employees' rights. More than 80 Filipino community groups based in Dubai and the northern Emirates are joining forces to create an ad-hoc committee to offer help and support to the nearly 600,000 Filipinos who live and work in the Emirates.
"We need to show the real situation of our migrant workers," said Robert Ramos, the chairman of the Filipino community organising committee in Dubai and the Northern Emirates. "The governments of the Philippines and the UAE have to know the extent of their problems." He was speaking on the sidelines of the forum organised by the UAE chapter of Migrante, an organisation created to protect Filipino workers overseas.
Mr Ramos said he would ask the leaders of each organisation to form sub-committees to handle research, media and social projects. "We need specific data and concrete cases of migrant workers' problems in the Emirates," he said, adding that the information would be used in a campaign to be launched in the Philippines. Abuse cases will be backed by surveys, and these will be used to determine policy recommendations to both governments, he said.
Mr Ramos said they would also invite entrepreneurs and economic experts to discuss ways Filipino migrants manage their money. "We need to work with our government to improve the conditions of our migrant workers," Yuri Cipriano, the vice chairman of Migrante, said. "We hope that one day, Filipinos no longer have to leave the country to work, and leave their families behind." Marietta Roque, 42, a Filipina housemaid who attended the forum, said many domestic helpers were forced to accept a salary below the minimum wage of US$400 (Dh1,400) set by the Philippine government for household workers.
"I've been with my Lebanese employer for 10 years and the family has treated me well," she said. "But I know of many housemaids who are paid Dh1,000 and can't complain for fear of being asked to return to the Philippines where there are no decent jobs available." firstname.lastname@example.org