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Filipinos flood Alberta, Canada
« on: June 05, 2007, 01:48:57 PM »
Hundreds of Filipino temporary workers who come to Alberta each year to fill the labour shortage have no clue about our labour laws, says the new Philippine ambassador.

“They rush to come here, excited with the prospect of making money,” Ambassador Jose Brillantes told Sun Media. Most workers don’t research their rights and responsibilities as workers in Alberta, said the Ottawa-based diplomat, who was visiting Edmonton this week.

Some will remain with bad bosses who exploit them because they’re afraid they’ll be deported, she said.

Only the federal government can deport foreigners, an immigration official told hundreds of Filipinos in a seminar Thursday night at the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers.

Several of the Filipinos attending the seminar whispered in surprise at the news.

Welder Antonio Velando, 33, his brother and three other friends quit their jobs after a month working in Sherwood Park. He said they were forced to undergo training for jobs they didn’t apply for when they were recruited in the Philippines.

After a month of apprenticeship training they were forced to take the exam with only a two-day preparation.

“Our contract said we will be given six months of training before we take the exam,” Velando said in Tagalog.

Noreen Berkes of Alberta’s Labour Standard and Work Safety told the workers not to think they’re helpless.

“If you think your rights are being violated, call immigration,” Berkes said.

One of the most common problems, she said, was workers not being paid adequate overtime.

“Keep a record of your hours. You must protect yourself,” she told them.

Most workers did not know they should get a 4% of annual salary vacation pay if they didn’t take the time off and that they should be paid 2.5 times their regular wage for working statutory holidays.

“You tend to be content and happy if you’re given 1.5 times,” she said.

Recruiter Mirasol Cameron said some unscrupulous recruiters in the Philippines gouge prospective wokers by charging exorbitant placement fees.

She said sometimes workers are charged up to $8,000, enough to buy a house in the Phillipines.

And when workers are placed in Canada, she said most agencies “just forget about them.”

Her own company Staffix Inc. routinely follows up to see if the workers are satisfied with their jobs.

While charging a placement a fee is illegal in Canada, it is not in the Philippines, Brillantes said. But recruiters are only allowed to charge the amount equivalent to a month’s salary. His government is aware of violations in the Philippines and has jailed and fined many offenders, the diplomat said. (Renato Gandia, edmontonsun.com)

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