Saturday, 16 March 2013

100 workers left in the lurch by ready mix firm

AILYN AGONIA

DOHA THERE appears to be no end to the plight of over 100 workers, 80 Filipinos and over 20 Indians and Nepalis who have been left to fend for themselves by a ready mix company, without work, without salary and without food for the last six months.

And, with the temperatures rising, their life is set to get worse in the coming days, as the labour camp they have been housed in, gets no power for 14 hours daily from 8am to 4pm and from 11pm to 5am.

Languishing at such a labour camp since September last year, when their employer, a ready mix company shut down the company’s operations in Qatar without prior notice, the workers are somehow managing to survive with donations from several Filipino groups and associations.

The Filipino community organisations have been offering these workers help, both cash and kind. The organisations have been supplying them food, bath soap, laundry services and all their basic needs. Meanwhile, their case is reportedly being heard by a court.

“I had worked with this company for almost five years. From early last year, we started experiencing delays in the payment of our salaries. However, our real problems started when the company was shut down all of a sudden in September last year”, one of the labourers Renato Prado told Qatar Tribune.

He added, “For the past three months we have not received our salaries. We have been communicating with people from our administration office in this regard, but they have only been promising to do something about it and not delivering at all.” Prado said that though the case was being heard by the court and seven hearings had already taken place, their fate still hangs in balance.

He said that the Filipino workers have also sought the Philippine Labour Office’s attention in this regard.

“We want this case to reach the Malacanang Palace (the Philippines’ seat of government) and for the authorities here to help us get our salaries or facilitate our return home or allow us to work in other companies here,” said Prado, a father of four.

Commenting on this case, Philippine Ambassador to Qatar HE Crescente Relacion said officials of the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) have already visited the camp and have extended assistance to the workers. He said a meeting will be taking place between Filipino officials and members of the new management, which bought the company from the former owners, soon.

The envoy also confirmed that “details of the case have already reached the Philippine government.” “Some of the workers will be retrenched, others will be given NOC (non-objection certificate) while the rest will be allowed to continue working for the company. We will be closely monitoring this case,” the envoy said.

The members of the Filipino community learnt about the plight of Prado and his fellow workers through a concerned Filipino who appealed to them via social media.

He now serves as the main source of help of the workers and coordinates whatever assistance people from the community can offer for their compatriots.

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