x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Recruiters in UAE and the Philippines under threat of suspension

Employment agencies recruiting Filipinos for work in the UAE face possible penalties after a group of Filipinas file labour violation cases against them.

ABU DHABI // Recruitment agencies in the UAE and Philippines are under threat of suspension or blacklisting after 10 Filipinas filed cases against them.

The Philippine authority overseeing expatriate recruitment said it was investigating complaints by the women, who had fled their employers’ homes.

They included agencies charging placement fees, below-minimum salaries, poor conditions and replaced contracts.

The Filipinas and 10 others have been flown home with the help of Filipino labour officers in Dubai.

Hans Cacdac, head of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, said: “Recruitment agencies with repeated violations will be preventively suspended. Abusive employers and the recruiters in the UAE may also face disciplinary action.”

“They will be disqualified from participating in the Philippines’ employment programme.”

Mr Cacdac said some cases had been referred to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, in Manila.

Rosalinda Baldoz, the Philippine labour secretary, said yesterday the recruitment agencies “should prepare for their cases and the Poea will observe due process”.

Poea provided the 10 women with lawyers to help them pursue action against the Philippine and UAE recruiters.

One complainant, Maida Esmael, was recruited by an agency in the Philippines that was later found to have no Poea licence or record of deploying workers overseas.

Ms Esmael, who worked in Ras Al Khaimah, alleged her working conditions had been exploitive.

Another Filipina, Maria Malaya Padilla said she had been asked to sign two contracts, one as a housemaid and another as a cashier at a supermarket, said Delmer Cruz, the Philippine labour attache in Dubai.

In cases of replaced contracts, workers sign one agreement and are then forced to sign an inferior one just before they leave home or after they arrive in the UAE.

Since December 2006, the Philippines has required its citizens to be paid at least US$400 (Dh1,469) a month for domestic work.

Two Philippines-based recruitment agencies, Futuristic International and Noveau Riche, were found to have been under “documentary” suspension by Poea in November 2011 and July last year, after earlier cases were filed against them.

“When we have a case of a runaway maid, we co-ordinate with her agency and hold the processing of its documents until the case is settled,” Mr Cruz said.

Ms Baldoz said she instructed all labour attaches to document all cases, particularly the runaway workers inside the Filipino Workers Resource Centres.

She also urged Filipinos seeking work in the UAE to go through the proper channels and not to fall prey to illegal recruiters.

“If the intention is to work, do not leave with a tourist visa but a work visa,” Ms Baldoz said. “You have to go through the Philippine overseas labour office and the Poea system.”