Articles on Contract Breaches of Migrant Workers

ARTICLE#1
Broken promises: Qatar's migrant workers caught in the kafaa s!stem
Immigrants are left powerless under the kafala employment system that ties them to a
sponsor – regardless of their treatment
By REBECCA FAC!"ER I" #!$A
theguardian%com& Wednesday& '( Fe)ruary '*+,& +-%** .M/
When they came to 0atar last year& Maria and Maricel1 thought it was their )ig )reak%
/heir contract for waitressing promised a salary of +&'** 0atari riyals 23'**4 a month
plus a food allowance of '** riyals – far more than they had )een making )ack home in
the 5hilippines% /hough they were lea6ing their children ,&7** miles )ehind& they felt the
mo6e was worth it& as the money they sent home would shore up their future%
It didn8t take long for their aspirations to fade% As soon as they arri6ed in #oha& their
employer confiscated their passports% /he women say they ha6e gone for long periods
without pay& recei6ing )arely ,** riyals in si9 months& and are only sur6i6ing )ecause of
part:time& piecemeal work for other companies – an endea6our that is illegal in 0atar%
/he women say their sponsor has threatened them with e6iction and they are afraid of
)eing arrested for )reach of contract under the kafalasponsorship system 2see panel at
end4 that tethers migrant contract workers to one employer% ;"ow our families send
money to us&; said <':year:old Maria%
Maricel& <(& so))ed as she said she wanted to return to her children& aged se6en and
++& who were )eing cared for )y her ailing parents in the 5hilippines% ;Because I cannot
send money& my hus)and decided to go a)road to =audi to work to help us&; she said% ;I
ha6e not seen my family in almost three years%;
!6er glasses of water in a 5hilippine cafe in a #oha su)ur)a populated )y migrant
workers& the women laid )are their wretched si9:month odyssey& which has left them on
the )rink of despair and repatriation% /he first shock was that their salary le6el was a
fantasy% /heir actual pay would )e far lower e6en than the minimum monthly wage for
Filipino workers in 0atar& which is >,** 23',* at the latest e9change rate4%
;/hree of us came on 7 ?uly and they ga6e us +** riyals for ?uly and +** riyals for '
August and '** riyals for @ August&; said another of the eight who identified herself as
?ane% ;Four hundred riyals only for three months – the last money we recei6ed%;
?ane& '@& said they had gi6en their employer plenty of chances since the management
told them in ?uly that they could not pay them )ecause the company was nearly
)ankrupt% /hey worked without pay until !cto)er& tolerating )roken promise after )roken
promise%
An Amnesty International su)mission on 0atar& presented this month to the A"
committee on the elimination of discrimination against women& says many workers ha6e
reported consistently recei6ing payments late and only after insisting on )eing paid%
=e6eral domestic workers said they were 6er)ally a)used for inBuiring a)out their
wages%
/he women say they were hired as waitresses )ut ha6e also worked as cleaners&
maids& housekeepers& cooks and )a)ysitters% ?o)elle& '-& said they often worked long
hours without o6ertime pay at an upmarket hotel and restaurant% ;/hey wanted us to
work dou)le shifts – (pm to <am and then (am to <pm&; she said%
#omestic workers in 0atar work some of the longest hours in the world& according to
figures from the International a)our !rganisation& a A" agency& in '*+<% A .uardian
in6estigation and the latest Amnesty report has found some work more than +** hours a
week without a day off% Many& including the eight Filipinas& reported working particularly
long hours during the fasting period of Ramadan in ?uly and August& when 0atar8s
la)our laws restrict pri6ate:sector working to si9 hours%
According to the women& they were pro6ided with food at the hotel& )ut not when they
spent long hours cleaning a school% /hey ne6er got their promised meal allowance& they
say%
Rothna Begum& who researches women8s rights in the Middle East and "orth
Africa for $uman Rights Watch& said food depri6ation could pro6e to )e the )reaking
point for domestic workers% ;/hat is a huge issue&; she said% ;Food depri6ation is a form
of a)use%;
?o)elle said they stopped working for the company )ecause they had gone so long
without pay& )ut the su)contractor told them they would not )e paid unless they worked%
/he women say their sponsor wanted them to transfer from the company that owes
them money to a British:run firm – or pay '&*** riyals each for a no o)Cection certificate
2"!C4 to release them from his sponsorship% Initially they reCected the deal& )ut now
Maria has agreed to pay for an "!C& Maricel and ?eanette& '-& ha6e agreed to pay
'&*** riyals plus airfare to return home& and eyda& '(& is in talks with her employer%
?ane said the =ri ankan management had twice promised them "!Cs if they agreed to
pay a fee and write a letter stating that they had no pro)lem with the company% ;We
said& we don8t want salary& )ut gi6e us our "!C&; she said% ;/hey were asking for
money%;
/he women hired in the 5hilippines had already paid <7&***:-*&*** 5hilippine pesos
23D<'4 to co6er e9penses including placement& training and medical fees )efore they left
home%
Amnesty reports that officials at the $amad hospital psychiatric unit in #oha say an9iety
or depression caused )y deception a)out work is the chief cause of admission& and an
occupational therapist told a local newspaper that +' to +7 domestic workers 6isited the
unit daily%
?ane said she would mo6e into a pri6ate room with ?o)elle& ?oanna& '7& and Rochelle&
''& at their own e9pense for +&-** riyals a month as they fought for Custice% ?o)elle said
they had shared a li6ing room at the accommodation they were to )e e6icted from&
which consisted of three )edsit rooms& each housing si9 people% #espite it )eing illegal
in 0atar to pro6ide migrant workers with only )unk )eds& they shared )unk )eds and
had no pri6acy%
FranEois CrFpeau& the A" special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants& said he
had also seen )unk )eds e6erywhere when he 6isited la)our camps in "o6em)er%
Crescente Relacion& the 5hilippine am)assador to 0atar& declined to )e inter6iewed )ut
issued a written response to .uardian Buestions% $e said the em)assy did what it could
to look after the <'&7** Filipino domestic workers in 0atar% ;Em)assy officials regularly
make representations with appropriate la)our officials on )ehalf of the migrant workers
to ensure that they )e accorded what is due them pursuant to 0atar8s la)our law and
other applica)le regulations&; he said% /he 5hilippine go6ernment said it would impose
sanctions on erring agencies%
*Names withheld to protect identities
ARTICLE#"
#iipino $orkers% E&o'us Continues
By Elias !% BaBuero
=un =tar Ce)u& Friday& ?une @& '*+'
=!ME <&-** Filipinos lea6e the country daily to work in 6arious part of the world&
according to the !6erseas Workers Welfare Administration 2!wwa4 -%
/his daily e9odus may )e )lamed on fewer Co) opportunities in the 5hilippines& said
.erardo .onGales& Hisayas coordinator of the Episcopal Commission for 5astoral Care
for Migrants and Itinerant 5eople:Catholic Bishops Conference of the 5hilippines& during
the =pecial 5re:#eparture !rientation =eminar 25#!=4 for o6erseas Filipino workers
2!FWs4 and their families%
5#!= consists of a comprehensi6e module on employment contract familiariGation&
profile of the country of destination& stages of the !FWs life& health and safety& airport
procedures& go6ernment programs and ser6ices%
Basic information
!wwa - #irector Wilfreda Misterio said the seminar coincided with the Migrant WorkersI
#ay to pro6ide !FWs with )asic information on working in other countries%
/here was also a showing of JA MotherIs =tory&K a mo6ie a)out a mother who is an
!FW%
.onGales& who talked a)out possi)le challenges the !FWs may face a)road& said
Filipinos lea6e the country )ecause they want to get out of po6erty and to impro6e their
li6ing condition%
In Ce)u& more than 7&*** workers ha6e lost their Co)s at the Mitsumi Inc%& a
semiconductor firm in #anao City& since '**D& he said& adding that the workforce at the
Mactan Economic Lone has )een cut in half in the same period%
J/hese are proofs of less employment opportunity in this country&K .onGales said%
At the seminar& Romyl Ca)illo of !wwa - told participants 5hilippine em)assies ha6e
three offices offering different ser6ices%
RA 1((""
$e said if itIs la)or:related& the !FW should go to the 5hilippine !6erseas a)or !ffice%
If facing a criminal complaint& the !FW should seek the aid of the Assistance
to "ationals =ection% /he consular office handles renewal of passports and marriages%
Ca)illo said Repu)lic Act +**''& the "ew !6erseas Employment aw& pro6ides that if
there is )reach of contract )etween !FWs and their employers& the agency that
recruited them is eBually lia)le%
And for a mem)ership fee of A=>'7& he said an !FW will recei6e 5+**&*** if he suffers
an inCury at work% If the !FW dies of a natural cause& the family will recei6e 5+**&***% If
the !FW dies in an accident& the family will recei6e 5'**&*** plus 5'*&*** for )urial
e9penses%
Ca)illo reminded !FWs of their duty to their family like maintaining regular
communication& ensuring regular remittance and maintaining moral and spiritual 6alues%
$e also ad6ised families of !FWs to spend the remittance wisely%
J=e6eral families of !FWs remain poor )ecause their families are la6ish spenders% ItIs
now time for them to sa6e money for their future&K he said%