x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Mistreated Filipina housemaids to receive training in new skills

Sixty-five Filipinas at a women's shelter in Dubai will avail of free livelihood training courtesy of the Filipino community in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

DUBAI // Filipina housemaids who fled their UAE employers because of alleged mistreatment will be trained on how to work and start their own businesses in their home country.

Sixty-five of the 260 women in a shelter at the Philippine overseas labour office in Dubai will receive livelihood training programme certificates at a Christmas event on December 24. The certificates will entitle the women to receive employment and entrepreneurial training once they return to the Philippines.

The rest of the women in the shelter, who are unable to return home because of pending labour or court cases, are expected to receive work training at the shelter in Dubai before they return home.

Analiza Magno Concepcion, the chairwoman of an organising committee that governs 90 Filipino groups in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, said the job training was in line with the Filipino president Benigno Aquino's reintegration programme, and services that will be launched in Dubai today.

Amilbahar Amilasan, the Filipino labour attache in Dubai, said the programme of the Filipino Department of Labour and Employment has two major components: economic and psycho-social. It provides job training, lending, family counselling and stress de-briefing for overseas Filipino workers, among other services.

Ms Concepcion said livelihood training and seminars will be provided to the 65 certified workers by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authorityor the Technology Resource Centre in the Philippines.

"Last September, I coordinated with both government agencies and they offered nominal rates," she said. "We are paying for the cost of their [housemaids] training programme."

Based on interviews with some of the women in the shelter, the majority would like to be trained in dressmaking, processing and selling meat, owning or operating a small convenience store, or starting an internet cafe, she said.

The Filipinas fled their employers' homes, complaining of lack of food and sleep, being mistreated and overworked, or not being paid for months.

In December 2006, the Philippine government set a US$400 (Dh1,469) monthly minimum wage for domestic workers worldwide, but many end up being paid less, according to Filipino labour and embassy officials.

Workers who flee their jobs in the Emirates can be stranded for many months while negotiations for clearances from the employers continue. Many do not have air tickets to return home.

Ms Concepcion said it is the responsibility of the Filipino government to provide the plane tickets.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, a Filipino government agency, advances the repatriation costs of the workers whose recruitment agencies in Manila could not produce air tickets within 48 hours. The agencies later reimburse the government.

"They [housemaids] don't need to stay here to earn Dh750 a month," Ms Concepcion said. "They can have a means of livelihood in the Philippines so there won't be any need for them to work overseas."

rruiz@thenational.ae