Oil rig blast victims sue; supporters call for Cuisia resignation
NEW YORK - Filipino labor group members in New York are calling for the resignation of Philippine Ambassador to the United States, Jose Cuisia, for alleged inaction on the labor conditions of oil rig workers in Louisiana.
Former employees and the families of the victims of the oil rig explosion last year are speaking out in a class action suit against the Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS).
“We are demanding the shutdown of their operations in the Philippines. We are demanding that Philippine Ambassador Cuisia resign because he did not perform his responsibility to protect the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants in the US,” said Julia Camagong of the International Migrants Alliance.
Former employees are alleging discrimination, trafficking, slavery, wage theft and fraud against GIS, a supplier of overseas Filipino workers to oil companies in the gulf coast.
The family of Avelino Tajonera, one of the Filipino overseas workers killed in the November platform blast, claims the Philippine government is not conducting enough investigations on the death of their loved one.
“Kung ang ating gobyerno ay tumutulong sa ating mga manggagawang katulad namin, na sinasabi nilang bayaning Pilipino ay hindi na po sana nangyari ganyang kapahamakan sa ating mga kapwa Pilipino,” said an alleged victim, Ricardo Ramos.
In response to the allegations, the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. told Balitang America that Cuisia is aware of the problems of the workers from as early as 2010 when the embassy met with eight offshore Filipino workers.
Cuisia said that the embassy continues to provide guidance to the families and workers.