MECO Ineffective in Resolving OFWs Problems
For the second time this year, Jia Chiarng Company in Taiwan illegally terminated this time 10 more complaining OFWs against its unfair labor practices. MECO supposedly had already blacklisted it and its Taiwanese broker but up to now has been ineffective in resolving the problems of its remaining workers.
The ten namely Winnie Lingat, Sherly Guinto, Joan Lagrimas, Wilma Deluana, Chita Sales, Siony Torzar, Julita Aldovino, Nelyvic Ombrero, Roche Mayang, Laila Orpilla were terminated by the company for allegedly being slow in their work that resulted in delays in production. They have been working for the company from 5 months to 3 years. One of the complaining workers, Bernadeth Medianista finished her 2 year contract on March 25 and went home already. Thirty four OFWs still work for the company.
The ten are part of an original 17 OFWs from the same company who filed a complaint against Jia Chiarng with the Legal Aid Foundation for underpayment of basic and overtime pay. They have claims of from NT$100,000 (NT$143,000) to NT$400,000 (P571,300) each from the company. Six were earlier terminated on January 19. These were Rosemarie Suyom, Maricel Bautista, Revilla de Jesus, Michelle Hernaez, Leticia Manalo & Evangelyn Ayoc.
Said company and broker called Sage International forced them to sign a side agreement compelling them to work for piece rate which violates their original contracts signed in the Philippines and verified by MECO. 6 of the workers were initially locked in a dingy and unlighted room which forced the remaining 45 OFWs to sign the agreement.
MECO’s position is that the agreement is binding even if the workers are paid below the minimum wage of NT$17,280 a month. Taiwan’s Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) had already opined as early as December 2008 that workers who agree to labor flexibility measures cannot be paid below the said wage. This month the 10 workers were only paid an average of NT$6,000 each, but their actual take home pay is almost only half that. The rest are deducted for brokers’ fee, labor and medical insurance and tax.
Earlier on January 21, Rosemarie Suyom and Maricel Bautista made an amicable settlement with the company after being offered NT$48,000 and free air tickets back home. The remaining 4 were forced to go home and got only NT$10,000 each plus air ticket after Sage International threatened to file a criminal case against them and the police were allowed to intimidate them.
MECO should also reprimand the Taipei County Labor Bureau for saying that the OFWs are not eligible for separation pay and even to stay in a shelter. Either they are blind, plain stupid or both. The termination of the now 16 OFWs is clearly meant to harass the workers. MECO has already assisted them with the latter and they should also assist the workers to get their separation pay. If it remains ineffective for this and in resolving the problems of the remaining OFWs it should pack up its things and go back to the Philippines for good.