Senate to start probe on ‘social dumping’
A Senate panel is set to probe the reported “miserable” living and working conditions of rescued Filipino truck drivers in Denmark last October.
Senator Joel Villanueva, who chairs the Senate committee on labor, filed Senate Resolution No. 946 which called for an inquiry on “social dumping.”
Villanueva defined “social dumping” as a practice of “high-wage” countries seeking to reduce operational costs by employing sub-contractors from low-wage countries.
He noted that on October 31, Danish authorities rescued 22 Filipino truck drivers who were contracted to work in Poland but were transferred to Denmark instead “due to alteration in the contract signed by the Filipino truck drivers.”
The contracts of the Filipino truckers, according to the senator, stated that they will work in Poland for a monthly salary of 1,060 euros (approximately $63580.39).
The compensation also include meal allowance, free accommodation, overtime pay, medical benefits, and life insurance.
However, the Filipinos were allegedly transferred to Denmark three weeks after their arrival in Poland with no appropriate accommodation, overtime pay, and medical benefits, according to Villanueva.
The senator noted that since the Filipino truck drivers were stationed in Denmark, they are entitled to Danish benefits and a monthly pay of 3,500 to 4,300 euros (approximately P209,935.24 to P239,925.99) and not the Polish wage of 1,060 euros.
“Although truckers move to different points in Europe as part of their jobs, the Filipino truckers with legal papers have been stationed in Padborg, Denmark for more than six months to more than one year, and not in Poland as stipulated in their contracts,” he said.
The senator likewise mentioned that the truck drivers did not have access to decent sleeping quarters as they were allegedly “made to sleep on the container truck they are driving without a heater, bed, kitchen or toilet facilities.”
“Their supposed accommodation is just a mere three square meters area with a kitchen inside the toilet,” the senator added.
Moreover, Villanueva said that the Philippine government also rescued 40 Filipino truck drivers in Germany and Poland on November 9.
“It is frustrating to know that some of our OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) were promised better opportunities, but instead they were grossly underpaid, maltreated and abused,” he said.
“No Filipino worker, especially those who work away from their families, deserve to be victimized by these abusive practices in exchange for their hard work and sacrifice,” he added.
The Senate committee on labor is scheduled to investigate the matter to “ensure that assistance is provided to the OFW truckers and their respective families.”
The investigation will also determine the actions to be taken against the recruitment agency and the employer of the rescued Filipino truck drivers.
The Senate panel will “look into the gaps in existing laws, rules, and regulations to prevent a repetition of the case; and ensure that adequate mechanisms are in place to protect OFWs.”
The committee is set to conduct the inquiry on November 26.
“This is an urgent matter that we need to discuss to know the adequacy of government actions in these kinds of situation to prevent the occurrence of similar cases in the future, and most importantly, to keep our OFWs away from falling victim these deceptive practices,” Villanueva said.
“Our workers’ safety and welfare here and abroad must always be our paramount concern,” he added. /ee
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