ACT backs exploited Filipino teachers in Louisiana

Posted at 08/09/10 6:47 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) on Monday backed more than 350 Filipino teachers in Louisiana, USA who sued placement agencies for collecting illegal fees and forcing them to sign exploitative contracts.

“We fully support our fellow teachers abroad who are fighting for their democratic rights,” said ACT secretary general France Castro.

“These teachers were forced to work abroad because of the lack of better opportunities for them here in the Philippines, but are being exploited and cheated by placement agencies of their just wages.”

Castro also denounced the agencies which were responsible for exploiting the teachers.

A report by Henni Espinosa of ABS-CBN North America Bureau said more than 350 Filipino teachers hired to work in Louisiana public schools filed a class action against their recruiters, Los Angeles-based Universal Placement International and Manila-based PARS International Placement Agency.

The lawsuit accuses officials of Universal and its sister organization, PARS, of human trafficking, racketeering and fraud.

In 2007, Filipino teachers were hired to work in various school districts in Louisiana. The Filipino teachers said their agency confiscated their passports and visas until they paid $16,000 in placement fees.

They also said they were forced to sign away an additional 10% of their annual income. The Filipino teachers said the recruiters threatened to send them home if they resisted.

ACT called the attention of the Philippine government to address the growing number of teachers opting to work abroad.

“It is due to the lack of adequate compensation that our teachers are being forced to leave our country to teach in classrooms in a foreign land,” Castro said.

“There is also a shortage of teachers here in the Philippines, and yet our teachers would choose to go to different countries for decent wages, even if it means being exploited by greedy placement agencies.”

ACT called on President Benigno Aquino III to assist the Filipino teachers in Louisiana and ensure that justice is served.