Romeo works as an electrician at MegaTec, one of the many subcontracting companies who failed to pay the wages of their workers. Aside from Romeo, there are other 18 Filipinos and 13 Nepalese, who resigned just this January after months without salary.
“It’s so hard. Sometimes they pay us, sometimes they don’t. The reason that they give us is that they have no money. How is that possible? Are we supposed to leave it at that – they have no money?” said the 38-year-old electrician. Because they resigned, these workers cannot depend on the compensation of MegaTec.
Subcontracting companies pay their workers once they get paid themselves by their main company.
Now, they want to get their previous salaries and just go home.
These workers are being paid QAR1, 500/month or approximately PhP19,000. MegaTec failed to pay them for four months resulting to QAR6,000 (PhP78,000) back wage.
Since January, these workers are solely depending on food donations and other contributions from kind-hearted people and the Philippine Embassy. But because their camp is far from the city proper, the contributions subsided for the past few years. Previously, MegaTec is giving them food allowance amounting to QAR200 (PhP2,600)
The workers stay in a camp without being paid since January 2017. They stopped working and filed the case against the company. Most of the days they stay inside the camp. In this photo, the stranded workers play volleyball using a makeshift net, May 21, 2017. Photo by Hans Lucas
POLO-OWWA in Doha is providing assistance to workers to file the necessary complaint against their companies. Currently, POLO-OWWA has been assisting 24 Filipino workers since September last year.
“These workers were all able to get their back wages and gratuity payments and are now back in the Philippines. We will continue to provide assistance to the remaining workers here in Doha,” said labour attache of POLO-OWWA in Doha David Des Dicang.
“Three things have happened here. One, the workers cannot go home because they are waiting for their back wages. They cannot look for work (with another company) because their pataka or Qatar IDs have already expired,” said Noel Tolentino of Migrante International. Unfortunately, leaving the country won’t be an option for these workers, unless their employer will issue an exit permit despite the ongoing labor dispute.
The workers stay in a camp without being paid since January 2017. They cannot afford to pay for a taxi to go downtown.
Another option is to give up on the dispute and go home, pennyless. Giving up could mean no gratuity and back wages. As for Romeo, he worked in the company for 5 years so he is expecting a gratuity of QAR7,000 (PhP91,000) plus his total back pay for 4 months, totals to PhP169,000. It is enough to start a business in the Philippines.
Adding to the economic crisis in Qatar is the cutting of ties with Gulf neighbors over alleged terrorism funding.
“The latest diplomatic spat in the Persian Gulf is going to be worrying for our OFWs in Qatar, unless a political compromise is arranged between Doha and Riyadh soonest. Food prices, airline costs, and employment opportunities could all get affected. If this goes on for months, Qatar’s economy could reach a standstill,” said international law expert Richard Heydarian.
Qatar is 4th country with the largest number of Filipino migrant workers, next to Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait.
Source : Rappler