5 April 2010
The Saudi-based Filipino migrant group advocating the rights and welfare of OFWs today said the 30 out of about 300 OFWs working as bus drivers in Saudi Arabia sought their assistance as the latter decry illegal charging of fees by their recruiter and tie-up lending agencies in Manila.
“The 30 OFWs are among the 300 bus drivers for Saudi Public Transport Company (SAPTCo) who are based in Dammam, eastern part of Saudi Arabia that sought our Migrante officers’ assistance in Dammam as they claimed that their recruiter agency charged them huge placement fee that led them to get an onerous loan from various lending agencies,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.
Most of the 30 OFWs have been working for almost 4 months now while others just barely 2 months as bus drivers. They were deployed by PERT-CPM Manpower Exponents Co. Inc. located at Suite 2 & 3 Colorado bldg., 1334 F. Agoncillo St., Ermita, Manila.
Yesterday night, a case dialogue between the leaders of the 30 OFWs and Migrante officers in Dammam took placed to discuss their problem.
According to Gerry de Guzman, Migrante-Eastern region Secretary-General, the OFW-bus drivers claimed that they were charged a placement fee that is higher than what is prescribed or allowed by the Department of Labor and Employment through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) schedule of allowable fees which is equivalent to 1-month of their stipulated monthly salary based on the employment contract they have signed.
“One of the OFWs manifested that he was deceived by his agency saying that he will be receiving Php.45,000 monthly salary, only to find out receiving his first salary to Php.15,600,” de Guzman added.
De Guzman said that on top of the overcharging of placement fee are the fees for ‘red ribbon’ and visa reader amounting to Php.1,800 and Php.400, respectively, which were all charged to them as well without issuing an official receipt.
Monterona said citing the complaint letter sent to him by the OFWs, the hired OFWs have been offered a monthly salary of 1,300 Saudi riyals. He added that the OFWs made it clear that they don’t have any complain about their company but decry on the overcharging of placement fee by the recruitment agency that they said have connections to various lending agencies in which they were referred to get an onerous loan.
Quoting the complaining OFWs, Monterona said because of the huge placement fee being charge by their agency, they were offered to lend money from various lending agencies as referred by the recruitment agency so that they could be deployed immediately.
“OFW Andres (not his real name as he requested anonymity) said that of the Php.50,000 he had loaned from Nittan, a Manila-based lending agency referred to him by his recruitment agency, he was told to pay it Php.78,000 in 8 months from his deployment to the jobsite,” Monterona revealed.
The lending agencies named by the complaining OFW-drivers are West Wind, NITTAN, and PJH, all are located in Manila.
It was known by the complaining OFWs that their employer (SAPTCO management) had paid their visa fee, processing fee, and other fees to their recruitment agency.
“That’s why our company’s management (SAPTCo), upon knowing that we were onerously charged with unnecessary fees and huge placement fee and high loan interest, threw their support to us,” Monterona quoting OFW Andres.
Monterona said this is a clear case of overcharging which is tantamount to illegal recruitment; their case has no difference to the case of OFW-bus drivers in Dubai last year who complained of overcharging and onerous lending. “The Arroyo administration failed to curb the rampant cases of illegal recruitment and overcharging,” he added.
“We are calling the attention of the DoLE-POEA to investigate this matter by immediately calling the attention and summon the recruitment agency and its cohorts lending agencies,” Monterona said.
The Saudi-based OFW said that the leaders of the 30 OFW-bus drivers will be having their press conference on Friday (March 26) to denounce this illegal overcharging and in close contact now with their respective families to study the filling of an appropriate case against their unscrupulous recruiter and lending agencies.
There are about 1,600 OFWs working for Saudi Arabia Public Transport Company.
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator