Filipino nurses in Kuwait file complaint of contract substitution

A number of Filipino employees filed a complaint at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) against an in-home care company in Kuwait for contract substitution (or mishandling and disregarding signed contracts).

Around 40 caregivers, nurses and nursing assistants were accepted in an in-home care company in Kuwait. These registered nurses were outraged when they found out that they will end up being caregivers in the said country.

"Hindi po kami pinagtatrabaho as a nurse, pinagtatrabaho po kami as caregivers," (We are not working as nurses, instead, we are working as caregivers,) said Jona Lee BasbaƱo.

"...kabaligtaran po ang nangyari sa amin... iyong nakasasaad po doon, sasahod ako ng KD250 monthly. Pero iyong nangyayari, KD140 monthly lang po," (What happened here is the exact opposite. We signed a contract that we'll be receiving a monthly salary amounting to KD250, instead we're receiving KD140 monthly,) BasbaƱo added.

Aside from nurses, nursing assistants and caregivers, massage therapists were also deceived. A therapist named Kyla shared that she signed a contract in the Philippines declaring her monthly salary to be KD150 but when she arrived in Kuwait, she had to sign another contract that she agreed to receive KD135.

These employees added that aside from contract substitution, three recruitment agencies in the Philippines are requiring them to pay unreasonable amount of placement fees.

Leonilda Petes, a nursing assistant and one of the complainants, bargained for the placement fee amounting to P55,000. Petes and the recruitment agency agreed to the amount of P45,000.

The employees are drafting their complaints regarding these recruitment agencies and will be escalated to Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

In the meantime, the POLO (in Kuwait) called for the representative of the in-home care company. With this initiative, POLO Assistant Labor Attache Angelita Narvaez intends to resolve the issue on contract substitution as soon as possible whilst the complainants are still in Kuwait. In the case of excessive placement fees, Narvaez trusts that POEA will conduct further investigation on the said matter.

At the time of writing, the complainants decided to move out of their company's boarding houses and stopped working. They are still hoping that they will receive the original amount of monthly salary written on the employment contracts they signed. — Vien Santos