Unscrupulous Filipino recruiters lie to workers about jobs and destinations
ABU DHABI // Unscrupulous Filipino recruiters are driven by greed to send workers to the wrong or non-existent jobs overseas.
“This illegal practice was particularly rampant in 2008, when there was a surge in the deployment of household service workers to Dubai,” said Emmanuel Geslani, an overseas recruitment consultant in Manila. “Many recruitment agencies are still involved in it, largely due to greed and a lack of business.”
Several women were hired as chambermaids, waitresses and office staff, but ended up as domestic workers when they arrived in the UAE.
The practice is commonly called reprocessing – which occurs when recruiters use a particular job or manpower request to hire a waitress, for example, but gives the person hired a different job, such as a housemaid, when she lands abroad. Often, workers are sent to a different country from the one they expected to work in.
“Clients overseas are against the US$400 (Dh1,469) minimum wage set by our government for household service workers, so recruiters resort to reprocessing,” Mr Geslani said.
His comments follow the cancellation of Manila-based Crosswind International’s licence over complaints filed by two overseas workers, Lorena Saligumba and Diana Lalaine Castillo.
Both admitted they left the Philippines with two air tickets, one for Manila to Dubai and another for Dubai to Jordan.
Ms Saligumba, in her affidavit, said she was hired as a food server in the UAE, but ended up a housemaid in Jordan. She escaped from her abusive employers by jumping out of a window, according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), a government agency in Manila.
Ms Castillo was promised a job as a cleaner in the UAE but found herself working as a housemaid in Jordan. She complained of “mistreatment and severe physical abuse” by her employers.
Hans Cacdac, the head of the POEA, said Crosswind committed “acts of misrepresentation” when it recruited and sent the women to work in the Middle East. It also breached the policy on pre-departure orientation seminars, which serve as an introduction to working and living abroad for those about to take jobs overseas.
“Misrepresentation means that they [the companies] fooled the system by making it appear that the women would be working in the UAE when their intention was to send them to Jordan as housemaids,” said Delmer Cruz, the labour attache in Dubai.
“I have encountered cases of Filipinas hired as clerks and office secretaries but ended up as housemaids here in Dubai.”
Workers are issued fake employment visas that they present to Philippine immigration authorities. They dispose of the visas upon arrival in Dubai and instead show immigration officials UAE tourist visas, and are then illegally employed as housemaids.
“One way to prevent reprocessing is to impose sanctions, which the POEA is now doing by cancelling the licences of recruitment agencies,” Mr Geslani said. “But it appears that agencies want to make more money to avoid complying with the reform package. ”
In December 2006, a reform initiative from the POEA required that household staff be paid a minimum monthly wage of $400, be at least 23 years old and not be charged placement fees.
Updated: September 28, 2013 04:00 AM