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IRAQ: Sixty Filipino Workers Return Home after Labor Strike

Around 60 Filipino workers, who had earlier engaged in a labor strike inside a United States military camp in Iraq, have come home, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.

by Michaela P. del Callar The Daily Tribune
June 8th, 2005

Around 60 Filipino workers, who had earlier engaged in a labor strike inside a United States military camp in Iraq, have come home, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.

DFA Undersecretary Jose Brillantes said the Filipinos opted to avail of voluntary repatriation and return to the Philippines in batches since last week.

“Out of the three hundred workers, only 60 opted to come home. They are now home.” Brillantes said in a press briefing.

DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo, who was also present at the briefing, reiterated his call to all Filipino workers in Iraq to go back to the Philippines.

Romulo said the 6,000 Filipinos in Iraq should consider immediate repatriation due to the worsening security situation in the strife-torn state.

Some 300 Filipinos working inside Camp Cooke in Taji went on a strike last month due to poor working conditions.

The Filipinos working inside Camp Cooke complained about longer working hours and the labor policies of their contractors Prime Projects International (PPI) and Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR).

DFA Executive Director Pedro Chan, head of Assistance to National Division, said the labor dispute has already been resolved after Philippine Embassy Charge d' Affairs Ricardo Endaya made representations to the contractors.

Chan said PPI and KBR have agreed to improve the working conditions inside the US base.

Basically, the Filipinos complained of longer working hours despite overtime pay. “But that issue has been resolved already and they have gone back to work,” Chan said in a separate interview.

On May 24, the Filipino workers brought to the attention of PPI and KBR their grievances. KBR manages non-combat-related operations of US military installations, while the PPI supplies the KBR the manpower.

The Filipinos were later joined by 500 other workers from India, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Brillantes said the 300 Filipinos have working contracts that were processed and approved by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) before the government imposed the deployment ban on Iraq in July 2004.

The Filipinos, which make up the most number of foreign workers in Iraq, provide service to various US military camps as food servers, laundrymen and kitchen helpers.




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