By Dennis Carcamo - A migrants workers' rights group on Tuesday bared that the "maid for rent" racket is now prevalent in the Middle East.

Migrante-Middle East is now calling on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Philippine Overseas Labor offices in the Middle East to probe the "maid for rent" racket by the employers of Filipino maids.

The group's regional coordinator Leonard Monterona said that many of the "maid for rent" victims are runaway overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia. He said that the OFWs were forced to work to other households through brokers.

"It is now becoming rampant that it even created a market of 'maid for rent' that is not only illegal but also dehumanizes migrant household service workers," Monterona said.

Monterona said that under abusive and restrictive working conditions, an OFW household service worker is forced to run away from her original employer or sponsor where she is to work contractually.

"The OFW reports and seeks the assistance of the Philippine-based recruitment agency’s counterpart foreign recruitment agency who will offer her to be transferred to another employer, if negotiations with the original sponsor-employer failed," he added.

Under labor laws of Gulf Cooperating Council-member countries, Monterona noted that a maid has to exclusively work for her sponsor, who is responsible for her legal and financial status during her stay in the host country.

The host government imposes fines maximum of 30,000 riyals and bans the employer or agency to hire maids for five years, and once the absconding maid is apprehended she will be deported back to her country of origin, he said.

Last year, the Saudi labor ministry, acting on the complaints of a group of Saudi recruitment agencies, ordered to stop the hiring of maids from the Philippines and Indonesia pending resolution of the issues being raised related to salary and protection of the deployed maid amid incidents of rampant deaths and abuses.

However, Monterona added, the shortage of maids primarily due to restrictions imposed by the Saudi government on the recruitment of foreign workers especially household service workers gave rise to the "maid for rent" phenomenon.

The racket is being operated by a group of "brokers" who make each maid, most of them runaways, work in more than one household.

"Particularly during Ramadan, the services of maids are badly needed by Arab families, thus even absconders or ran away maids were hired," Monterona noted.

Unpaid bank loans prevent OFW from coming home Home Updated June 08, 2012 09:47 AM 0 comment to this post

MANILA, Philippines - An elderly overseas Filipino worker could not return to the Philippines due of an outstanding bank obligation amounting to 90,000 Qatari riyals (about P1.07 million), a migrant workers' right group said Friday.

Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Monterona said Tomas Barandon, 62, of Taytay, Rizal, is also confined at the Heart Center of Hamad Medical Hospitfal in Doha, Qatar.

"He was confined for treatment of health ailment. He’s old and is suffering from heart complications," Monterona said.

He said Barandon had been working overseas since 1979, his first destination being Iraq as a construction general foreman or supervisor.

In 2006, Barandon was laid off from his job in Doha following the financial crisis. Since then Barandon had been unable to pay his bank loan base amount plus interest now reaching to 90,000 Qatari rials as he could not get a permanent job, Monterona said.

"Barandon told me that according to an embassy official his travel documents such as passport and exit clearance issued by his sponsor are already ready but could not be issued a clearance from the bank due to his loan plus bloating interests," he added.

Monterona urged the Philippine embassy to cite humanitarian reasons in negotiating with bank officials in Doha for the deferment of paying Barandon's loan interests. - Dennis Carcamo

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