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OWWA Repatriates OFW's From Poland
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On May 7, 2009, Senior officials from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) brought home an initial batch of 49 overseas Filipino workers from Poland Thursday morning, arriving at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on board Malaysian Airways Flight 803 via Kuala Lumpur.

Director Vivian F. Tornea of OWWA's Policies and Program Development Office and Director Alejandro Padaen of POEA's Adjudication Office, who were dispatched by Labor Secretary Marianito D. Roque, assisted the workers who left their jobs at a Polish glass factory over wage and other issues. The workers complained that they were promised a monthly wage of US$500 by the staff of their recruitment agency in Manila, but they received only the equivalent of some $346 at the job site in Lodzki. From the airport, the expatriated workers were accommodated and served mid-day meals at OWWA Central Office in Pasay City. OWWA Administrator Carmelita S. Dimzon gave instructions for staff from both OWWA and POEA to help document their concerns and prepare paperwork for the formal filing their complaint with the Department of Labor and Employment. Some of the workers said that, while they were willing to adjust to the difficult working and living conditions, the issue of the discrepancy between the promised wages and actual compensation was "just too much to take." "If we were told that the actual pay would be less than $350, we would not have gone there in the first place," said one returnee who hails from a province close to Manila. "The food and living quarters, though far from what we expected, was something we could put up with, but the recruitment agency staff attributing the huge salary difference to fluctuation in the currency exchange rate of the zloty to the dollar was, to us, totally unacceptable. That is why we will be filing our complaint." A second batch of the returning glass factory workers from Poland is expected to arrive the next day.