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UK, Canada job applicants go to claims tribunal for help

29 July 2016

Vice Consul Fatima Quintin (2nd from left)  talks to victims
who went to the Consulate to formalize their complaints.
By Daisy CL Mandap

Frustrated Filipino job applicants have been trooping to the Small Claims Tribunal in Wanchai to seek a refund of the money they paid for apparently non-existent jobs in Britain and Canada.
The first batch of five claimants showed up at the tribunal offices on July 25, and filled out forms naming the complainant as Ester Ylagan, a recruitment veteran who used to manage two employment agencies licensed by the Employment Agencies Administration.
Her older company, Emry’s Service Staff Employment Agency, was the biggest recruiter of Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong, until it was ordered suspended by Philippine authorities on June 20.
But it was her other company, Mike’s Secretarial Services, which she used to conduct the recruitment for jobs in Britain, for which each applicant was reportedly made to pay $10,000; and $15,000 for those bound for Canada.
The claimants were joined by at least two other Filipinas demanding a refund of the of the $6,680 fee reportedly paid by their employers for Filipinos they were hiring to work in their households.
One of them had a receipt showing the fee paid by her employer was received by Emry’s on June 22, or two days after the Philippine Overseas Labor Office suspended its accreditation.
“Sabi ko nga sa kanila, alam na ninyo na suspendido na kayo, bakit pa kayo tumanggap ng pera?” she said.
The two said the bigger problem faced by their employers was tracking down the documents of the Filipinos they wanted to hire, since Emry’s had practically shut its offices since July 3.
The job applicants, however, named Ylagan in her personal capacity as the defendant in their claims. They said they were enticed to apply for the jobs because they relied on Ylagan’s solid reputation as an industry expert.
The claimants said they expect many other job applicants to seek a refund.
As many as 500 Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong are believed to have paid for the overseas jobs offered by Ylagan between January and May this year.
They were reportedly promised that they could be deployed as early as June.
Several have gone back to the Philippines after their contracts were prematurely terminated. Many of them have told The SUN that they were assured by Ylagan that they could come back to Hong Kong as tourists, then fly out along with the rest of the applicants once their job orders were sent from London.
The first batch of cases is set to be heard on Aug. 31, and the second, on Sept. 3.

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