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Tribunal hears case of Pinay worker who refused to work for fake employer in China

20 May 2019

By Vir B. Lumicao
Labour Tribunal in Yaumatei

A Filipina domestic worker told the Labour Tibunal on May 20 that she was terminated in 2015 after she refused to go back to China to work for her employer’s sister.

Rowena Obaldo is claiming around $113,000 from Wong San-wing as a result of her termination in early October 2015 after she refused to return to the mainland to continue working for Wong’s friend, a certain Madam Huang.
It took nearly four years before Obaldo’s claim against Wong got could be heard because the police and Immigration first prosecuted the employer, her friend and an employment agent for conspiring to commit fraud in relation to the case.

The three accused were eventually convicted of the fraud charge. However, a separate allegation of human trafficking against them did not prosper, according to a Consulate officer.
When the helper’s compensation claim was finally heard at the Tribunal, Wong refused to settle, forcing the case to go to trial.

The trial did not start until after  lunch as tribunal officer PC Lai first told Obaldo to provide the defendant and the court copies of documents that she did not give to them beforehand.
Obaldo told the court Wong and the employment agent told her to sign a termination letter a day after she went to the Immigration Department and the Consulate to complain after being told she would be working for Huang on the mainland.

The helper said she was interviewed by Huang on Apr 15, 2015, but was then told by the agent to sign a work contract with Wong, as the employer supposedly liked her. She started working in Wong’s Hung Hom flat on Jun 11 that year.
Then in August 2015, Wong told Obaldo she was taking her on a holiday on the mainland with the employer’s daughter and son. 

The Filipina applied for a visitor visa to China and traveled with Wong and the children across the border by van, then boarded a plane to their destination, whose name Obaldo could hardly remember.
She found out too late that she was taken to China to work for Huang and that the children were actually not Wong’s but Huang’s.

Obaldo said she could not do anything because Huang had taken her passport. Her daily chores were cleaning the house, cooking, shopping in the market and taking the children to their activity centers.

She said she was always concerned because she knew her status on the mainland was illegal and that she could not run after Huang in case something happened to her because she was not her real employer.

When her visa was about to expire, Obaldo was told to return to Hong Kong on Sept 25 to renew it. However, she decided instead to complain to Immigration and the Consulate.

The next day, she told the agent and Wong that she did not want to go back to the mainland and her contract was cut off.

The two-day trial continues tomorrow.

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