An alliance of Filipino migrant workers group in the Middle East today said the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) under the out-going Arroyo administration failed to curb the rampant cases of OFWs contract substitution victimizing thousands of OFWs especially those deployed in the Middle East.
“Cases of contract substitution are still rampant among OFWs deployed in the Middle East; it is about 3 to 5 cases out of the average 7-10 daily cases we have been receiving from troubled OFWs,” John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional director.
Monterona said despite that plenty of the cases lodge by distress and repatriated OFWs in POEA Adjudication unit are mostly cases of contract substitution and labor malpractices committed by their erring employers, the DoLE-POEA failed to curb it or much less to totally solve the prevailing problem of contract substitution.
“It appears that the employment contract signed by the hired OFW facilitated by its recruitment agency is not been honored by most of the foreign employers as many hired OFWs have been asked or even forced to sign a new contract upon arrival at their job site,” Monterona added.
Monterona revealed that based on the accounts of OFWs victims of contract substitution, their recruitment agency will let them sign a new set of contract, different from the one they have signed during processing of their formalities, upon their departure only to find out that the stipulated salary has been reduced, and other terms and conditions such as medical insurance and housing provision have been omitted.
“Many have told us that they have been forced to sign a new set of contracts before their departure at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, while others said upon their arrival on the job site facilitated by the counterpart agency of the deploying agency in the Philippines,” Monterona revealed.
Monterona added in such a situation, if you are the departing OFW, you will be forced to sign the new employment contract that you have not read fully because you are already departing in an hour or sign it because you have already incurred much opting to proceed for your deployment.
“Contract substitution is made possible in collaboration of recruitment agencies and foreign employers, and that the DoLE-POEA doing nothing about it; it is a mockery of the original employment contract signed by the OFWs while they are still in the Philippines,” Monterona averred.
Monterona added the original employment contract is intended to protect OFWs labor rights as set forth in the terms and conditions of employment, but the moment a new contract with different terms and conditions unfavorable to the OFWs has been forged without the knowledge of the OFWs or by force they have been told to sign it, then it is putting OFWs employment at risks even before their deployment.
“Thus, Instead of simply ‘dropping’ the probationary period provision on OFW contracts, the POEA must instead focus on curbing contract substitution and violations committed by foreign employers which we believed would not be possible without the collaboration of the deploying recruitment agencies,” Monterona.
“Recruitment agencies and foreign employers that are party to such labor malpractice must be banned from deploying and recruitment,” he added.
Migrante-Middle East is calling the incoming Aquino government through its soon-to-appoint Labor department Secretary to look at this problem and investigate so that a new system will be developed with the objective of curbing the rampant cases of contract substitution victimizing thousands of OFWs.
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator