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Assistant Labour Attache Angelita Narvaez listening to the case
Filipino medical workers suffer abuse, humiliation Homecare centre nurses sue for ‘monetary rights’

KUWAIT CITY, June 18: Twelve Filipino nurses who are working for a homecare centre in Kuwait were allegedly thrown out of their accommodation by their Lebanese manager after filing complaints at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour against their company for contract substitution and other violations. According to the nurses, the company did not follow the salary that was stated in the master contract that they signed in the Philippines. “We’re supposed to receive KD 150 but we’re only getting KD 120 monthly,” disclosed one of the nurses to the Arab Times.

Aside from the salary, they claimed that they work 12 hours or more daily and are not given their overtime pay. “We are not given a day-off but if you get lucky, you get one day-off in a month,” lamented one of the nurses. Some were also not allowed to take their annual leave even after completing two years of service. The nurses also stated in their complaints at the “shuon” (Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour) that they are not allowed to take sick leave even if they are not fit to work for the day.

Moreover, they are cramped in a small flat with two rooms and one bathroom “This manager has been treating us inhumanely. Sometimes she confiscates our Civil IDs and we can’t go out. We are nurses. We are professionals.

How come she treats us this way?” asked another nurse. Last March 14, the group of nurses went to the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) to file a complaint against the homecare company prompting Assistant Labour Attache Angelita Narvaez to call the attention of the Kuwaiti employer and his business partner.

The nurses and the manager met at the POLO on April 1 but after raising the complaints of the nurses, no amicable settlement was reached. “I have sensed that the Madam is not serious in settling the labour dispute. I even asked her to step out of my office and show some respect because she seemed to be mocking the whole conciliation process hence, I recommended to the group that they file their case before the shuon and settle their case there,” explained Narvaez.

The group filed their case at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour on April 14 where the manager appeared and agreed that they will adjust and increase the salary, pay the overtime and salary differential, grant a day-off and transfer them to better accommodations. However, after over a month, the nurses claimed that the manager failed to comply with the agreement prompting them to go back to the shuon on June 15 and report the matter. While they were in the ‘shuon’, the manager allegedly changed the lock of the accommodation and left the door open.

“When we arrived in our accommodation from the shuon, she locked us in, prompting us to call the Philippine embassy for help. Not content with locking us up, she even brought a policeman to our accommodation to harass us. He wanted to take our civil IDs but when one of us refused he slapped her twice while he pulled the hair of the other,” stated one of the nurses who took note of the serial number of the policeman who hurt her colleagues.

Philippine Consul General Raul Atty Raul Dado and his team rushed to the nurses’ accommodation in Hawally prompting the manager to unlock the door of the accommodation while the Kuwaiti employer also arrived to talk with the nurses. The nurses agreed to report back to work but are determined to proceed with their case before the shuon. The group had another hearing at the shuon on Tuesday where a decision was handed that eight of them can be released after completing two years or more with the company while four can go home to the Philippines. Two of the four have already finished their contract while the other two have only less than a year and are not yet eligible for release or transfer. After the shuon hearing on Tuesday, the manager allegedly locked the nurses’ accommodation again and they were not able to get in.

She again brought some police who took all the nurses to the Nuqra Police station. The Philippine Embassy team came just in time to the police station and the nurses were released. They are now staying temporarily at the embassy shelter in Al-Hateen while waiting for the shuon’s final decision as another hearing is set on Thursday. “There is a huge demand for Filipino nurses in hospitals and clinics in Kuwait so I advise our nurses in the Philippines to go for bigger clinics or hospitals,” urged Narvaez. She outlined that the salary for Filipino nurses for private clinics or hospitals should be at least KD 250 and not lower than this.

On the other hand, nurses working at the Ministry of Health usually get a KD 650 salary plus other benefits. “We have already blacklisted this homecare company and they can no longer get Filipino nurses,” she stressed. Meanwhile, Dado disclosed that they will file a complaint against the policeman who harassed the nurses and against the manager concerning some of the personal belongings of the nurses that are missing.

By: Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff

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