In that meeting, Limsan said, Nair gave them a document in Arabic and asked them to sign it. They refused because of an earlier advise by Librea not to sign any paper offered to them. Limsan said de Jesus even tried to persuade them to sign the document.
Limsan instead asked them to translate the document.
“Nagtiwala kami sa kanya (de Jesus), ‘yun pala..,” (We trusted de Jesus, but apparently he was not protecting us.) said Limsan in dismay. The document, according to Limsan, stated that she and Tuburan has completed working for two years and that the company has paid all their salaries. Limsan and Tuburan just laughed, commenting that they were then only in their 10th month of stay in Kuwait. De Jesus did not react.
De Jesus even told them, Limasan said, that Migrante’s presence makes their work more difficult. But they told him, “sorry sir, sila ang nakakatulong sa amin.” (Sorry sir, but only Migrante is helping us.)
When Limsan and Tuburan decided to bring their case to the Ministry of Social Affairs of Kuwait, de Jesus discouraged them by saying that they needed a thousand KD for the lawyer and that it would take time.
Later, they learned from a Kuwaiti friend that assistance from the Ministry of Social Affairs would cost them nothing. Instead, it would be the company who would pay their claims. “’dun namin na-realize na nabayaran talaga. Pretty sure,” said Limsan. “Alam n’ya na kung puputok ‘yun (isyu), damay s’ya dahil may kasalanan din s’ya dun.” (That was when we realized that de Jesus was paid by the company. He knew that if the issue became public he would also be held accountable because he was also at fault.)
Limsan and Tuburan were eventually terminated by Al Essa. Among the reasons given were alleged cruelty to patient and insubordination. When they asked that their patients and the sponsors be called to testify if they were maltreated, the company did not agree. The other nine Filipino caregivers who were part of their group resigned. In exchange, Migrante-Kuwait said, the nine OFWs were promised free airfare back home, their remaining salary for the month, a chance to come back to work in Kuwait with other employers, and the waiving of a penalty of KD250 (US$915) for breach of contract. The company also promised to provide the remaining workers a copy of their pay slips. There are 53 Filipinos and more than a hundred South Asian caregivers in Al Essa, said the migrant group.
But the KD130 (US$476) reportedly deducted from them for their airfare to Kuwait, which the company told POLO was for training fees, was never given back to them, along with the unpaid two hours of overtime pay and days off and holidays, said Migrante-Kuwait. The group said that caregivers in Kuwait earned a basic pay of only KD70 (US$256.00) and a meal allowance of KD10 (US$37.00) or a monthly income of US$293, which is way below the US$400 monthly income the Philippine government brags as the minimum pay of household service workers.
The courage of the 11 OFWs earned praises from Indian workers. Limsan said the Indians are afraid because if they complained, they will not be given their whole month’s salary. “Sabi nila sa amin, ‘bilib kami sa inyong Pilipino, kaya nyo si Murail (general manager).’” (We admire you Filipinos, you can face up to Murail.)
After arriving at the Manila airport, Limsan and Tuburan requested the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) post there to transport them to the Migrante International office but they were instead brought to the OWWA main office in Pasay City. There, Limsan said, they were offered a lawyer but they refused. They said they have heard many stories of OFWs whose cases against their recruitment agency were just compromised by the OWWA.
“Wala na kaming tiwala kahit ‘dun pa sa Kuwait. Naobserve na namin ’dun pa lang iba na treatment. Lumaban nga kami ’dun na hindi namain bansa, dito pa kaya sa bansa natin?”(We do not trust them anymore. Even in Kuwait we observed that they treated us differently. We fought for our rights while in Kuwait even if we were in a foreign country, why would we not fight here?) Limsan said with conviction.
Now at the Migrante office, Limsan and Tuburan, are following up their request for airfare to be able to go home to their families in Mindanao. But Limsan was annoyed when an OWWA personnel told her, “gusto n’yo sa Migrante tapos ngayon hihingi kayo ng pera pauwi sa amin.” (You wanted to be with Migrante and you are asking us for money to go back home.)
“Ba’t ba nagagalit ‘tong unggoy na ’to pera naman namin sinasahod sa kanila!” (Why shouldn’t we be angry at thaat monkey when it is our money that is being used to pay their salaries.) Limsan lashed back.
“May pondo naman bakit ayaw nila irelease?” (There are funds, why don’t they release it?) asked Tuburan commenting that the agency was only good at collecting fees from them.
The two plan to file charges against their recruitment agency, Careplus, to fight for, among others, their salary for the remaining 14 months of their two-year contract.
More importantly, the two said, they would try to prevent and warn the next batch of OFWs from working for Al Essa so that they would not experience what Limsan, Tuburan, and the nine others had to go through. “Ito rin ang request sa amin ng mga kasamahan naming naiwan ‘dun (sa Kuwait).” (This is the request of our companions who were left in Kuwait.) (Bulatlat.com)