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Overcharging agencies reported to POLO

03 October 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao

Three Filipino domestic workers have filed complaints at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office against two Hong Kong employment agencies for alleged overcharging of fees.

Labor Attaché Nida Romulo did not name the agencies, but said she had asked the agency owners and the complainants to a meeting at the POLO in the first week of October to sort out the dispute.

Labor Attaché Nida Romulo
Romulo said two of the workers complained against one agency, and the third, against another. The complainants were accompanied to her office by Esther C. Bangcawayan, case officer of the Mission for Migrant Workers.

According to Bangcawayan, staff from the two agencies have been ringing up the complainants since learning that they had complained to the POLO. She said the unnamed two agencies were the Hong Kong counterparts of the Manila-based Spear International Manpower.

Several cases of Hong Kong agencies who have reportedly overcharged their Filipina recruits in collusion with their partners in the Philippines have been brought to the POLO’s attention in recent weeks.

The cases show a pattern in which Hong Kong agencies recruit domestic workers through their partners in Manila, charging them ridiculously high fees, then telling them to pay back through personal loans from designated lending firms.

The workers are then made to pay back the loans in monthly installments of more than half of their monthly salaries for up to four months.

In the most recent case, the helpers failed to pay back the loans on time, so the agencies started harassing them with phone calls, forcing them to seek help from the Mission and POLO.

Initial investigations revealed that the workers’ contracts had been stamped by an accredited agency although they were recruited by sub-agents, in violation of their undertaking with POLO.

In the previous cases, Labatt Romulo ordered the offending agencies to refund the workers’ money, and also suspended their accreditation for breach of their undertaking.                                                                                                                                                                                             

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