Balladares said that contract substitution is rampant in GCC countries, legalized both by its own labor laws and the sponsorship system.
The sponsorship system serves as the legal basis for temporary residency and employment in Gulf States. Expatriates cannot enter, work, change jobs or leave the country until they have permission from their sponsor, usually a GCC citizen, company or ministry. The system requires that the expatriate can work only for the sponsor and is entirely dependent on the contract in order to remain in the country.? ?She said that it is also common practice for sponsors to take possession of their foreign workers’ passports. A foreign worker cannot leave the country without the prior consent of the sponsor who issues the release paper. “Without an authenticated release paper, foreign migrant workers cannot leave the country or change sponsor and thus become stranded workers. There were stranded workers who even lived under the Al Khandara bridge in Jeddah, KSA during the winter time this year as they had nowhere else to stay.”? ?Balladares said that domestic workers are treated as slaves in GCC countries. “They are not also covered by labor laws and receive very small salaries and have limited or no days off.”
She said that the rest of the migrant workers receive relatively small pay especially for cleaners and construction workers. Those who dare to complain, she added, are charged by their sponsors with absconding, theft, adultery and even witchcraft.
Migrante-ME said that the number of migrant rights violations is “indicative of the Arroyo administration’s failure to implement a clear program for the protection of OFWs.”
Migrante-ME denounced the tour in the GCC countries by Labor Secretary Marianito Roque. The group said that the Arroyo administration continues to offer cheap Filipino labor to other countries as a way to cushion the impact of the global financial crisis.
Migrante-ME branded Roque as human trade dealer, with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as his handler. (Bulatlat.com)