x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Abandoned Filipina cleaners still waiting for pay

More than 80 Filipina cleaners who were abandoned last month by their employer are still living in an Ajman villa without water and electricity.

From left, Jonalyn Dordas, Maricel Dela Pena, Cindy Rodriguez and Merly Perez, who were abandoned by their cleaning company. Amy Leang / The National
From left, Jonalyn Dordas, Maricel Dela Pena, Cindy Rodriguez and Merly Perez, who were abandoned by their cleaning company. Amy Leang / The National

DUBAI // A group of Filipina cleaners who were abandoned by their employer last month are still waiting on salaries that the Ministry of Labour has said they should receive.

The ministry has recommended that the 84 women, who were left in an Ajman villa without water or electricity, should be paid their salary and benefits, Amilbahar Amilasan, the labour attaché in Dubai, said yesterday.

According to an endorsement letter the ministry sent to the Dubai labour court, the workers are entitled to Dh7,348 each to compensate them for three months of back wages, air tickets, gratuities and other benefits, he said.

Hearings on the issue have been scheduled at the Dubai labour court for October 26 and 31 and November 3.

The women, who arrived in the UAE between January and April last year, worked for Lavito Building Cleaning Services cleaning schools for the Ministry of Education.

The women stopped working on September 14, the day on which most of them filed a complaint with the Ministry of Labour and one day after electricity and water to their villa was cut off. The woman said at the time that they had not been paid for nearly three months.

On October 7 the villa in which they were staying was raided by Ajman immigration authorities in response to complaints from neighbours, Mr Amilasan said.

The authorities told Filipino consular and labour officials that the 46 women who were at home at the time did not have resident visas in Ajman; the women were transferred to Dubai immigration, which has jurisdiction over the case.

"We told the Dubai immigration authorities that we could accommodate them in our facility, so they were released to our custody," he said.

Those women, plus another 10 who were not in the villa at the time of the raid, are being sheltered at the Filipino Workers Resource Centre in Dubai. The remainder of the women are staying with friends.

In the meantime, the temporary shelter at the resource centre has been overwhelmed by almost 200 women in need of a place to stay. Most of them were working as maids and fled their employers' homes complaining of lack of food and sleep or being overworked and unpaid.

Dr Daffodils Guevarra, a general practitioner at Prime Medical Centre in Dubai, visited the shelter last week ,along with a group of volunteers, to examining the women.

Many of them were suffering from minor ailments, include hypertension, ulcers, skin irritation, and colds, and most complained that they were having difficulty sleeping, Dr Guevarra said.

"We'd really like to make a difference in the lives of these women," said Emily Gonzales, a volunteer and an office manager at Dubai Internet City.

The group plans to conduct a regular medical outreach program, in co-ordination with Filipino officials, once every three months, she said.

rruiz@thenational.ae