Migrant workers endure hardships abroad for chance at better life.
Byline: Daily Star Staff
Summary: Four months ago, Eric and his wife Karen left the Philippines for Lebanon to provide for a better life for their family. While driving buses in the Philippines, Eric became certified as an electrician to improve his chances of finding employment abroad. "The work is hard but I need money for our children," Eric said.
BEIRUT: Four months ago, Eric and his wife Karen left the Philippines for Lebanon to provide for a better life for their family. While driving buses in the Philippines, Eric became certified as an electrician to improve his chances of finding employment abroad. "The work is hard but I need money for our children," Eric said. "We made a sacrifice, left our son in the Philippines because of poverty. There, sometimes one month's salary was not enough to pay the rent."
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. a recent United Nations study entitled "Sending Money Home Sending Money Home is a free information service sponsored by the UK Government’s Department for International Development. The aim of Sending Money Home is to provide free, impartial, transparent information anyone looking to sned money overseas but was originally designed ," Asia receives almost $114 billion in remittances annually. The study also found that last year, overseas Filipino An Overseas Filipino is a person of Philippine origin who lives outside of the Philippines. This term applies both to people of Filipino ancestry who now live and reside as citizens of a different country, and those who continue to be Filipino citizens and those supporting their workers sent home $14.6 billion.
Filipinos working overseas represent nearly 23 percent of the country's labor force. Foreign remittances currently account for about 13 percent of the Philippines' total gross domestic product, according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA POEA Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
POEA Philippine Overseas Employment Agency
POEA Pacific Offshore Energy Association
POEA Protection of Offshore Energy Assets
POEA Polyoxyethylene-alkylamine ).
The POEA estimates there are over 30,000 Filipino workers in Lebanon. Last year, the POEA reported a deployment of over 8,000 new workers. "We are giving money to our government," Eric added.
On November 18, the Department of Labor and Employment announced the processing of Filipino migrant workers would resume after Manila imposed a ban last year because of the war with Israel.
Under the new rules, migrant Filipino workers will only be sent to Lebanon if paid a minimum of $400 per month. Currently the set rate is $200 for Filipinos, $100 for Africans and $150 per month for Sri Lankan workers - but many recive as much 50 percent less.
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (srē läng`kə) [Sinhalese,=resplendent land], formerly Ceylon, ancient Taprobane, officially Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, island republic (2005 est. pop. extends fewer protections to its migrant workers than other Asian countries, such as the Philippines.
The Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment estimates there are over 86,000 Sri Lankan women employed as domestic workers in Lebanon, where they constitute the largest population of migrant workers.
Bernadette, a 32-year-old single mother from Sri Lanka, needed a means to provide for her daughter. The option of working overseas sounded very promising. For almost three years she has been working in Lebanon as a domestic worker. Daily, Bernadette wakes at 6 a.m. to endure 18 hours of grueling labor.
"There are jobs in Sri Lanka but they pay very little money and I needed money to take care of my daughter," Bernadette said. "$150 is almost 20,000 Sri Lankan rupees The rupee (Sinhala: රුපියල , Tamil: ரூபாய்) is the currency of Sri Lanka, divided into 100 cents. The currency code is LKR. . That's very little. I have land but now I want to build my house."
Sri Lanka received $3.4 billion in remittances last year from migrant workers abroad. The Sri Lankan central bank reported 7.4 percent growth in the economy in 2006, largely driven by money from overseas that went into technology-related services, construction of properties and the garment industry.
Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch (HRW HRW Human Rights Watch
HRW Heathrow (London Airport)
HRW Heated Rear Window ) released a 131-page report on expatriate workers entitled "Exported and Exposed," criticizing several Gulf states, Lebanon as well as Sri Lanka for failing to protect Sri Lankan migrant women workers.
"For its part, the Sri Lankan government welcomes the money these women send home, but does little to protect them from exploitative bosses or labor agents," said Jennifer Turner Jennifer Turner is the coordinator of the China Environment Forum (CEF) at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a senior program associate with the Environmental Change and Security Program. The China Environment Forum (CEF) works to facilitate dialogue among U. , a researcher in the Women's Rights The effort to secure equal rights for women and to remove gender discrimination from laws, institutions, and behavioral patterns.
The women's rights movement began in the nineteenth century with the demand by some women reformers for the right to vote, known as suffrage, and division at HRW.
Lebanese employers pay up to $3,000 to a recruitment agency. The agency replaces the contract signed in the workers' country with a new contract which is in Arabic, a language foreign to the migrant worker.
"Now we are working to create a unified contract that is clear for both employee and employer, and signed by both parties, one in Arabic and the other in the language of the worker," migration lawyer Roland Tawk said. "We have these agencies that take money and this money is what creates the problem of poor working and living conditions living conditions npl → condiciones fpl de vida
living conditions npl → conditions fpl de vie
living conditions living ."
According to Tawk, who has represented domestic workers for over 10 years, Lebanese labor laws labor law, legislation dealing with human beings in their capacity as workers or wage earners. The Industrial Revolution, by introducing the machine and factory production, greatly expanded the class of workers dependent on wages as their source of income. are outdated and generally do not cover migrant workers because they are considered servants, not employees.
Instead, they are covered under the "Kafala" or sponsorship system, which says workers must be legally sponsored by a Lebanese employer or kafil for the duration of their contracts. The employer typically confiscates the worker's passport and other identity papers identity papers npl → documentos mpl (de identidad); documentación fsg
identity papers identity npl → Ausweispapiere pl , which are returned at the end of the contract.
Sri Lankan recruitment agencies prepare the women for travel abroad. In "Maid in Lebanon," by documentary filmmaker Carol Mansour, 16-year-old Sureika is getting ready to leave Sri Lanka for Lebanon. Her village has no electricity.
"In 12 days they have to learn Arabic and English, electrical appliances like the vacuum cleaner vacuum cleaner, mechanical device using a draft of air to remove dust, loose dirt, or other particulate matter from dry surfaces. It is especially useful on highly textured surfaces, such as carpets and upholstery, that are difficult to clean by wiping or brushing. and the washing machine (storage) washing machine - An old-style 14-inch hard disk in a floor-standing cabinet. So called because of the size of the cabinet and the "top-loading" access to the media packs - and, of course, they were always set on "spin cycle". and Lebanese foods," says Mansour. "They come here and they are traumatized. I think it's a huge problem."
HRW says that although the Sri Lankan government has created a regulatory system for recruitment agencies there are still important gaps and regulations that need to be enforced.
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