800 Pinoys stranded on remote Diego Garcia island
MANILA, Philippines — Nearly a thousand Filipinos working for an American construction firm on Diego Garcia island, a remote US military base in the Indian Ocean, could not leave the island due to threats of termination from their employer, according to Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople.
Ople said in a radio interview on Friday that around 800 Filipino workers had no choice but to continue work on the military base without vacation lest they be sacked or barred from returning to work.
These overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are employed by Kellogg Brown and Root, one of the seven defense contractors on the island that have hired Filipinos as employees, according to Ople.
“They are stranded in the sense that they could not go on vacation. They are afraid that once they go on vacation in the Philippines, they will either not be allowed by the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) or that they might get sacked from their jobs,” Ople said.
The OFWs have been on Diego Garcia for three years already. Ople said the OFWs were paid only $5.25 per hour, way below the minimum wage set by the US Federal Law at $7.25 per hour. —Kathleen de Villa
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