More than two weeks ago, GMA News Online reported about the 11 Filipinos who were forced to live in their office after the company they were working for stopped paying correct wages and overtime pay. According to the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), the Filipinos were brought to Australia under 457 skilled visas and were “promised lucrative wages.” Upon arriving in Australia, however, they found themselves exploited and paid below local industry standards. Not only were they not able to send money to the Philippines, they felt like they were “treated as slaves.”
The Filipino workers “now have no money, no job, nowhere to live, and no way to get home,” said the Electrical Trades Union. Schneider Elevators Australasia owed the 11 Filipinos and a British worker approximately $172,000. The company also allegedly deducted fees from their employees’ salaries, leaving the 11 Filipinos with weekly wages of $150 to $500. The company has yet to issue an official statement, stated The Philippine Times.
Image Source: http://www.smh.com.au/
The Generosity and Warm Hearts of the Filipinos
Upon hearing the news about the 11 Filipinos, the Filipino community in Australia immediately took action, turning to social media to ask for donations. There were several Filipino groups and individuals who started fundraising drives for money and goods, stated The Philippine Times. Filipina Nelia Arino Ciar, along with her sisters Ivy and Sonia, handed over $1675 last April 5, 2015. Friends and contacts helped them to raise the amount.
As investigations are being conducted by AMWU and the Department of Immigration, the group is currently being accommodated in a flat in Cranbourne. The cost of their accommodation is being shouldered by a generous Pinoy real estate agent who refused to be named.
The Filipino workers were overwhelmed by the support provided by the Filipino community in Australia, stated The Philippine Times. The group would want to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who helped.