Repatriated OFWs from Madagascar are also entitled to financial assistance – migrants‘ group

According to Tañada, workers need to go through a long and slow process of claiming their meals while workers from western countries did not have to fall in line.

“You can’t choose the food you want, you can’t eat what and when you want to eat” said Biscocho. “The management does not allow us to go out and buy food,” he added.

Their salaries were much higher than what they earned here in the Philippines but they were not given night differential, said Tañada.
The OFWs were conducting protest actions against the injustices and unfair treatment they suffered when the outbreak of malaria happened. This was the last straw so Tañada and Biscocho confronted their company head and demanded for their repatriation.

Protest Actions

The company initially refused to give in to the demands of the workers. Instead of signing their papers and sending them back home, they were offered incentives.

“They issued a memo which explained our working hours, they promised to increase our allowances as well as our salaries” said Tañada, “But I have already decided that I would go home no matter what. Nothing could have made me change my mind because I did not want to risk staying longer,” he added.

To make the company give in to their demands, Biscocho playfully said, he purposely violated company rules and regulations. “I purposely committed a lot of violations such as sneaking out of the campsite during working hours and curfew hours, climbing on top of the huge pipes without wearing a shirt, just to make them see I was no longer happy working with them and I really wanted to go home”. Tañada and Biscocho led the OFWs in skipping their working hours as a sign of protest. They also camped out in front of the company’s office.

The protest lasted for five days and was finally resolved after personnel from the Philippine embassy in Kenya convinced company officials of Kentz Engineers and Constructors to sign the repatriation papers of less than a thousand OFWs and to pay for their plane fare and other expenses in going back home.

Gina Esguerra, Secretary General of Migrante International (International Alliance of Filipino Migrant Organizations), said the OFWs from Madagascar would now want to receive the P10,000 financial assistance from OWWA.

Esguerra said the government should consider that these OFWs from Madagascar are in a similar position as the OFWs who were repatriated from Libya. They all had to be repatriated immediately and were not able to claim their unpaid salaries.

“The government should draw up solutions to the problems of OFWs: protection, fair assistance with their privileges and benefits”.

The OFWs from Madagascar and Migrante International are planning to hold a picket in front of OWWA’s main office. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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