Friday, December 3, 2010

Foreign firms in Algeria prefer OFWs for projects

Foreign companies with projects in Algeria continue to prefer overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for employment in their construction and oil and gas projects, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Monday. At least three companies intend to hire more OFWs for various projects in Algeria, according a DOLE press release based on a report from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Tripoli, Libya. Labor Attaché Nasser Mustafa said he conducted site verification and ocular inspection of Algeria-based companies COJAAL, Samsung, and Doodsal and found that work conditions in the companies’ sites are “satisfactory." He also met with the management of MITAC, the Japanese firm which built a 220-km road project with the Algerian National Agency for Highways. The road project was clinched through COJAAL, a consortium of five Japanese companies -- Kajima, Taichi, Nishimachu, Hajana, and Ituchu. Mustafa said that COJAAL is now starting the construction of another 17-kilometer superhighway to connect Annabah to the Tunisian border.

Most MITAC-COJAAL workers that completed the 220-km Constantine project have been transferred to Camp 7, a project site which has two satellite work sites that need more highly skilled workers, he added.

At COJAAL Satellite No. 3, Mustafa personally saw the working and living conditions of the Filipino workers. “The OFWs there were highly regarded by the COJAAL management as evidenced by the ‘zero’ complaints as to date," he said.

Food and accommodation in the satellite site were not only suitable but also adequate. Each room has four beds, with the building having common entertainment and several comfort rooms, the labor attaché said.

The whole camp also has wireless Internet access, allowing workers to communicate with their families back home.

The labor attaché said that the workers are satisfied with the company’s remittance system, as pay is guaranteed every 16th of the succeeding month and their money being sent in three methods: Money sent 100 percent to an account of the worker’s spouse or family in the Philippines

Money sent to two separate Philippine accounts — worker’s and spouse’s/family’s — with the worker deciding on how much is placed in each

Not more than 20 percent of OFW's salary retained in Algeria and the rest remitted to the Philippines. Mustafa said in all instances, the company shoulders whatever charges these transactions involve.

Meanwhile, Mustafa reported that more than 400 OFWs are at COJAAL Satellite No. 2.

In a dialogue with the workers, Mustafa said the questions raised were mainly about the workers’ deploying agencies: HRD, Camox Philippines, Asia Contract, and WERR.

It was discovered that 20 WERR-deployed OFWs were not verified by POLO. Mustafa said the transfer of COJAAL workers deployed by Asia Contract to a different client was a concern among other OFWs, as the transfer might entail several immigration documents that may delay repatriation back to the Philippines when those workers finish their contracts.

Mustafa also inspected Samsung Co. Ltd., the Korean company which won a contract to build a $5-billion “liquid and gas project" (L&G) at Schikda.

Samsung’s general manager said the company plans to hire an initial 20 professional and highly skilled oil and gas workers, Mustafa said.

The labor attaché said that India-based Doodsal Co. is also involved in Algeria’s L&G project, particularly in Schikda, and currently employs more than 100 Filipinos.

In his meeting with the human resource manager of Doodsal, Mustafa said he mentioned that the workers’ were concerned that the Algerian Labor Law does not offer end-of-service benefits or gratuities to foreign workers who have completed their contracts, unlike in many Middle East countries.

In 2009, there were some 3,200 Filipino workers deployed in Algeria, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration records showed.

But the Commission on Filipinos Overseas estimated there were about 4,900 Filipinos in the North African country as of December 2009. — VS, GMANews.TV

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