12 seafarers file case vs recruiter, employer

Posted at 08/14/2012 2:33 PM | Updated as of 08/14/2012 3:56 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) took action on the complaint filed by a group of 12 seafarers who were victims of contract substitution, misrepresentation, maltreatment and bribery against their manning agency and employers in Taiwan.

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’," said POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said.

Based on their complaints, the group tapped the services of JMP Polaris Navigation Inc., which recruits regular seafarers such as messmen, deck cadets and engine cadets with a monthly salary of US$250 to US$350, from January to February 2012.

They were assured of employment as seafarers in an international vessel but they had to pay P15,000 as lagay (bribe) and some miscellaneous fees.

“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.

All in all, Cacdac said the complainants paid the manning agency P265,000.

The complainants left for Taiwan in separate dates from January to March 2012 after signing their employment contracts. But while at the airport prior to departure, an employee of the recruitment agency told them that the positions would be substituted to “fisherman”.

The seafarers still boarded their plane bound for Taiwan to work in two fishing vessels.

They alleged that their employer maltreated them and made them work overtime without pay. They also complained of poor accommodation, inadequate food and water, and lack of safety equipment and first-aid supplies.

The seafarers were able to return to the Philippines on June 2.