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21 stranded Filipino nurses fly home – Check contract before coming to Kuwait: Chavez

A group photo of Pinoy nurses with Asst Labour Attache Angelita Narvaez (2nd from right).
A group photo of Pinoy nurses with Asst Labour Attache Angelita Narvaez (2nd from right).

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 8: The 21 Filipino nurses who left their job at a homecare company last month and sought the help of the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) to file a complaint against their company for contract substitution finally flew back to the Philippines on Monday afternoon on board Philippine Airlines PR 669. Many of them are registered nurses but when they arrived in Kuwait, they were surprised to learn that they will be working as caregivers and not as nurses.

Even massage therapists were made to work as caregivers. In the case of “Kyla,” who arrived in Kuwait last Dec 15, 2015.

The group complained that the company allegedly did not pay them the right salary as stated in the contract. The nurses were supposed to receive KD 250 but they were only getting KD 150 while others KD 135 with some unexplained deductions.

Aside from that, the group said the three manpower recruitment agencies in the Philippines made them pay excessive placement fees.

At the onset, Assistant Labour Attache Angelita Narvaez summoned the company Human Resources Director and presented the demands of the Filipino workers before they go back to work.

However, the conciliation-mediation failed after the company refused to pay the salary differential and give the other benefits as stated in the contract, leading to a deadlock. The company owner decided to cancel their visa and send them back home with the condition that they go to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour and sign a waiver, freeing the company from any liability and that they will no longer collect their salary differential.

The Filipino workers signed the waiver last month, hoping that they can go home immediately but the company delayed the cancellation of their visa and refused to give their passports unless they sign a resignation letter.

The company released the passports at the last minute at the airport on Monday after Philippine Labour Attache Atty Cesar Chavez Jr talked the owner of the homecare company. “We are very happy. It wasn’t easy to be stranded for a month, fighting for our rights. We would like to thank Labour Attache Chavez for helping us get our passports the last minute, Assistant Labour Attache Nina Narvaez for the help, Ma’am Lerry for letting us stay in her home and providing our food, to Dr Chie Umandap who also guided us and to Balitang Global for airing our story and letting everyone know our plight,” stated Jona Lee Basbaño, one of the nurses.

Meanwhile, Chavez urged all Filipinos who are planning to work in Kuwait to check on the contract and make sure that everything is transparent with the employer before they accept the job offer. “We have already suspended the homecare company and recommended it for blacklisting. We hope that the group of workers will push their case against the company and the manpower agencies in Manila,” pointed out Chavez

By Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff

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