By January 2009, they were informed that workers with contracts that were about to expire from that month until May would be sent home. They were promised that they would not be penalized for breaking the contract. Because the income tax being deducted from their salary was very high, at almost 20 percent, and they were not given overtime work, many grabbed the opportunity to go home.
After some of their co-workers were sent home, their employer told them that they had already reached the desired number of employees. But on March 27, their employer read from a list the names of workers who were being asked to attend a meeting the next day. Those who attended the meeting were told that they would be sent home because the employers claimed that there would no longer be much work for the second quarter of the year. They resisted the offer and organized themselves to be able to find a way to keep their jobs.
Most of them felt that it was unfair since they had only been working there for four months. They went to the Migrante International office in Taiwan and asked for help. They were informed about their rights and their resistance against their retrenchment became stronger.
Representatives from recruitment agencies such as Jerson even came to them and tried to bribe them into signing the termination of contract. The Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taiwan advised the OFWs to sign the contract because it was, as they claimed, legal. Doctora and her companions eventually conceded and signed the contract.
Then on March 30, Atty. Rodolfo Sabulao of MECO came to their dormitory to talk to them. “Lahat ng sinabi niya, binaligtad niya” (He reversed everything that he told us earlier.) Eventually, Sabulao promised that within 10 days he would be able to find them a new job in Taiwan. Ten days passed and nothing happened.
Sabulao also later told them that MECO does not have enough facilities to accommodate them. “Attorney namin siya. Siya ang dapat magtatanggol sa amin pero ang ginawa niya pinaasa niya lang kami,” (He is a lawyer. He should have helped seek justice for us. But he just gave us false hopes.) Doctora shared.
Hoping to find justice
“Sa Pinas na lang natin ito ituloy,” (We would just continue the fight in the Philippines) Doctora told Bulatlat. She is seriously hoping that she would be able to get justice and collect the refunds that were due them because she has not yet been able to pay the loans she incurred a year ago.
In an interview with Bulatlat, Gary Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International, said their group would help the retrenched OFWs in seeking justice. He said that the fastest way is to file criminal charges against the recruitment agency for illegal recruitment since the placement fee that the OFWs were made to pay was alarmingly high compared to what is provided for by the law. Martinez maintained that the retrenched OFWs have a strong case because they were able to keep track of all the needed documents that could prove their allegations.(Bulatlat.com)