Retrenched OFWs from Taiwan Return Home Empty-handed

The retrenchment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) due to the global financial crisis is not the first nor is it the last problem confronting migrant Filipino workers. Even before the financial crisis imploded, Filipino migrant workers have already experienced numerous sufferings and difficulties from the hands of unscrupulous recruitment agencies and oppressive employers. Their retrenchment due to the financial crisis only added to the burden being confronted by OFWs, but it is a big problem, nonetheless. Here is the story of retrenched OFWs from Taiwan.

BY JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat

The retrenchment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) due to the global financial crisis is not the first nor is it the last problem confronting migrant Filipino workers. Even before the financial crisis imploded, Filipino migrant workers have already experienced numerous sufferings and difficulties from the hands of unscrupulous recruitment agencies and oppressive employers. Their retrenchment due to the financial crisis only added to the burden being confronted by OFWs, but it is a big problem, nonetheless.

[flashvideo file=http://bulatlat.net/uploads/audio/2009/04/06/irenedoctorainterviewfull.mp3 height=75 width=302 /]
Listen to OFW Irene Doctora narrate her plight. (Interview and photo by Janess Ann J. Ellao)

The following is the story of retrenched OFWs from Taiwan.

The Migrante International, a global alliance of migrant organizations, recently reported that the total number of retrenched OFWs in Taiwan is about 6,528, almost 35 percent of the total number of retrenched workers worldwide. Last April 3, another batch of retrenched OFWs from Taiwan returned home, jobless and empty-handed.

Deceit at its early stage

Irene Doctora, a retrenched OFW who returned home from Taiwan, never imagined that she would leave her country and her family to work abroad. But the financial difficulties that their family was facing compelled her to leave her job as a regular factory worker and to apply for work abroad. An opportunity came when Doctora’s sister-in-law introduced her to Forever Manpower, a recruitment agency.

During the early stages of the processing of her application, Doctora sensed that something was wrong. First, they were asked to pay a downpayment of P20,000 ($433 at the September 2007 exchange rate of $1=P46.13) after they passed the final interview in September 2007. Then, just right after they completed the necessary papers, the said recruitment agency asked the applicants to pay the P110,000 ($2,384) balance of their placement fee even if they had not yet been given the exact date of their departure. As for the applicants who did not have the money to pay for the placement fee, Forever Manpower advised them to loan in cash. One of them was Doctora.

Ill-fated choice

Akala namin hindi ka tutuloy, kung alam lang namin pinigilan kita.” (I thought you were no longer pursuing your application. If only I knew, I would have told you not to go here.) This was how the applicants she met at Forever Manpower who left before her greeted Doctora upon her arrival at the workers’ dormitory in Taiwan.

Doctora told Bulatlat that she never experienced any form of physical or verbal abuse. She said that what made her job difficult was the problem in communicating with her Taiwanese co-workers and superiors. Upon receiving her first pay slip, she finally understood why her fellow OFWs greeted her that way when she arrived. She noticed that there were so many deductions from her NT$17,280 salary. Her employer also deducts NT$1,000 from their daily wage whenever they were absent from work. Curious and determined to know if this was legal, she approached the labor department of Taiwan and found out that it was an illegal practice in Taiwan.

Out of her NT$17,280 monthly salary, she only received NT$8,000. Doctora would have to send NT$6,000 to the lending company and keep NT$2,000 for her own personal expenses. They were rarely given an opportunity to work overtime because there was not much work to do. By September 2008, she was surprised that they were flooded with new factory workers, most were Filipinos.

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  1. Ignorance is not an excuse to the law,so therefore, these people wanting to work abroad SHOULD know their rights prior to their arrival in their country of destination,it is not only because of the salary being written in the contract because, MANY EMPLOYERS can breach the contract. However, we as the migrant workers SHOULD know our rights and should have a voice to every issue/s we have to encounter during our stay in e foreign country. it is no use bringing our issues if the damage has been done.
    I have been dealing issues and concerns of migrant workers in the care sectors. What is lacking to us FILIPINOS is “ONENESS, COOPERATION, SOLIDARITY and VOICE”. We only know how to act if it is too late, why don’t we have the solidarity that other nationalities have? I am very sorry to tell you these things but, it is really happening at present, we have the saying that goes this way “buntot mo hila mo”. Built a strong solidarity on one issue and we could act on it before worst comes worst.

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