POEA: Seafarers deployed as fishermen file complaints against recruiter, employer

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POEA News Release
Source:   www.poea.gov.ph
13 August 2012

Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac said 12 seafarers have recently sought the assistance of POEA’s anti-illegal recruitment branch in filing separate complaints against a manning agency and the owners of two fishing vessels in Taiwan for alleged contract substitution, misrepresentation, maltreatment, and charging bribe money from them.

In their complaint sheet, the seafarers claimed that from January to February 2012, they engaged the services of JMP Polaris Navigation, Inc. which recruits regular seafarers such as messmen, deck cadets and engine cadets with a monthly salary of USD250.00 to USD350.00.

The complainants alleged that the agency’s crewing and operation manager assured them of employment as seafarers in an international vessel but they have to pay the amount of PhP15,000.00 as lagay (bribe) and some miscellaneous fees.

Cacdac said there is total prohibition on charging any fee from seafarers. “Under POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Seafarers, manning agencies are prohibited from charging or accepting directly or indirectly any amount of money, goods or services, or any fee or bond for any purpose from the seafarers,” Cacdac said.

Cacdac said the 12 complainants alleged they paid JMP Polaris Navigation, Inc. a total of PhP265,000.00.

The complainants stated that after submitting the required documents and signing their employment contracts, they left the country for Taiwan in separate dates from January to March 2012.

The seafarers alleged that before departure at the airport, an employee of JMP Polaris Navigation Inc. told them that the positions in their respective contracts would be substituted to “fisherman”. Nonetheless, the seafarers, boarded their plane bound for Taiwan to work in fishing vessels owned by Menh Hao Fishery, Co. Ltd and Jui Wun Fishery, Ltd.

The complainants said their employer maltreated them and made them work beyond the normal hours of work without pay. The seafarers also complained of poor accommodation, inadequate food and water, and lack of safety equipment and first-aid supplies.

They left their employers and came back to the Philippines in June 2012. Cacdac said that on the basis of the sworn statements of the complainants, the POEA suspended the license of JMP Polaris navigation, Inc. and suspended Menh Hao fishery, Co. Ltd and Jui Wun Fishery, Ltd. from participating in the overseas employment program pending investigation of the case filed against them.

“We find strong prima facie evidence of a case for violation of the pertinent provisions of POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Seafarers and there exists a reasonable ground to believe that the continued deployment of the respondent agency of workers to the respondent employer will lead to further violations of the Rules and exploitation of the job-seeking public’” Cacdac said in his order.

Cacdac reminded job applicants that licensed agencies are barred from engaging in any recruitment activities while under preventive suspension.

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