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Organization: Filipino Workers Victims of Contract Violations in the UAE

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A human rights organisation has documented cases of Filipino workers facing contract violations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) amid governmental neglect from Abu Dhabi in providing minimum protection for their rights.

Migrant Rights, an organisation dedicated to defending the rights of migrant workers in the Gulf region, accused the Philippine government of negligence in protecting the rights of workers in the UAE and ignoring the increasing cases of contract substitution and other labour rights violations.

The organisation stated that it had observed an alarming trend where labour recruitment agencies and employers in the Philippines increasingly substitute and amend the main contracts of Filipino cleaning workers without their consent.

“It is frightening to know that this is happening despite the numerous and exhaustive requirements that most Filipino workers must comply with, which are supposed to protect migrant workers,” the organisation said.

Migrant Rights highlighted an increase in complaints of contract substitution among Filipino workers since early 2020.

The affected workers were often directly employed in the Philippines through the Overseas Employment Administration’s recruitment orders.

The organisation noted that in all cases, cleaning workers have experienced various labour malpractices, including long and harsh working hours without overtime pay and adequate rest, unfair deductions from wages, and other illegal policies that supersede local labour laws imposed upon the employees.

Additionally, UAE service workers have also faced verbal and psychological abuse and sexual harassment.

“These conditions have had negative physical and mental effects on the workers, and it is distressing that some have even lost their lives,” the organisation stated.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, there were approximately 1.83 million Filipino workers worldwide in 2021, with women comprising 60.2 per cent of them.

The UAE hosts 14.4 per cent of Filipino overseas workers, making it the second-largest destination for Filipino migrant workers worldwide, following Saudi Arabia.

Statistics reveal that 40 per cent of the jobs granted to Filipino workers abroad are “elementary occupations,” including, among other things, cleaning and basic maintenance in homes and hotels.

The human rights organisation called on the Philippine government and its local representatives to thoroughly investigate the plight of Filipino cleaning workers in the UAE and take immediate action against “unscrupulous agencies” involved.

“We challenge the concerned Philippine authorities to come up with preventive and long-term solutions to ensure and support the rights and well-being of Filipino migrant workers,” the organisation emphasised.