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Philippines Labor shelter braces to receive runaways, implements no ward policy
June 28, 2014, 4:38 pm

The shelter for household workers announced on 28 June that it is ready to receive and accommodate runaways and distressed workers during the month of Ramadan. Workers in particular those who have never had experience working during the season are often those who seek refuge in the shelter due to several reasons. The Philippine Labor Attaché Atty. Cesar Chavez has implemented a strict “no ward” policy to recruitment agencies so as to avoid congestion in the shelter.

In the course of their interviews with runaways during this season, Atty. Chavez said that many have complained about a lack of sleep and rest and limited food or no food during the fasting hours that have caused many to fall ill and weak, leaving them unable to perform their duties. Yet in turn, the number of abuse cases will drastically fall during the month. Dora Gonzales, a recruitment agency administrator told The Times that prior to the deployment of the workers to their employers, agencies have given orientation and information to their workers on how they can survive the season.

“Employers understand the situation and know for fact that some of the workers are non-Muslim. The workers can always save some of the food from the night and eat in the privacy of their rooms and employers know this well and often will allow their workers. The only issue here is probably the long hours of work but they can always find time to rest in between their jobs, most especially when the household rests in the morning,” explained Gonzales. However Beverly Tonogbanua reminded the workers to respect the rules of fasting and to be very careful especially with issues of food during the fasting hours. She also urges workers to bring up their concerns to their employers so as to avoid conflicts and from running away. Such can aggravate the situations. “They have the contact numbers of their agencies; they can call us so that we can provide assistance in bring up their concerns to their employers,” added Tonogbanua.

In response to expected turn out of runaways during the month, the Labor Attaché has implemented a “no ward” policy among foreign recruitment agencies, which refrain and restrict deployment of house helpers among agencies which have current workers in the shelter until such time that they are repatriated or resolutions have been reached between workers and their employers.

“This is a temporary measure and I expect the agencies to understand our situation and work closely with us to resolve their cases”, commented the Labor Attaché. Although many agencies will suffer immensely with such implementation, they however understand the situation and have agreed to cooperate to further help the embassy and labor section. Atty. Chavez also said that the labor section has coordinated with the Kuwait shelter administration to provide refuge should the Philippine labor shelter reaches congestion.

“The labor department only chases after those who violate the measures we have implemented and agencies are aware of this situation. Again, I urge the secretaries to work closely with their workers and the labor section so as to avoid sanctions,” said Atty. Chavez.

- Ricky Laxa
Staff writer



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