Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pinoy Dies in the Outback

A Filipino OFW recently died under suspicious circumstances somewhere up in the Northern Territory. Three months into his work term, Pedro Balading's remains were found on the road as he was reportedly thrown off a speeding vehicle. His body was flown home in June.

Balading, along with 2 other Filipinos were reportedly targets of racial discrimination, abuse and were made to do tasks in violation of their 457 skilled worker visa. Another Pinoy was also killed last March as he was crushed by 2 slabs of granite in his workplace north of Perth. The Philippine embassy and the Australian government have called for review of said visa. Australia Malcolm Knox writes:

HIS body aching, his hands bristling with splinters, Pedro Balading phoned his wife Maria Magdalena on his 35th birthday and said he wanted to come home to Manila. The university-educated Filipino piggery supervisor had had enough of living a modern-day version of Wake In Fright in the Australian outback.

Instead of performing the skilled work prescribed by their visas, Balading and two Filipino co-workers on a cattle property on the Gulf of Carpentaria had become targets for bullying and discrimination, were underpaid and ordered to do back-breaking unskilled jobs.

The circumstances of his death remain the subject of an official investigation, but witnesses say that Balading's death resulted from the same harassment and exploitation that characterised his brief tenure in the territory.

Ten weeks after his death, his destitute and distraught widow has received no report on what killed Him and scant information on her entitlements, which include unpaid wages and accrued leave, workers' compensation and life insurance.

Territory and federal authorities have maintained a veil of secrecy around the death. Balading's employer has washed his hands of responsibility. When Maria Magdalena was notified of her husband's death two days after it happened, she wept: "Now they will let him come home."
In the Pinoy blogosphere, Geejay, himself a migrant worker here in Australia, writes:
Now, I’m not saying that all working conditions for migrants in Australia are as bad as what was depicted in the two articles. However, I just want to remind you, if you are interested in working here, to be extra vigilant. Don’t be lulled into thinking that working in Australia is without any risks. Do your homework and do not let yourself be abused. I strongly urge you to read the two articles in its entirety to get some ideas of what to watch out for.
From oodles of goodles:
There is just too much pent-up urgency in me to do something right about this. Perhaps, other than suggest that we boycott the agency which sent Balading to his death in a foreign land and send a barrage of furious email or letters to employers Paul and Stuart Zlotkowski, we can divert some of that passion, anger, unity we incited when Malu Fernandez made fun of OFWs and convert it into a microcosm of social relevance.
From sette:
It seems ironic that these days workplace reform, rights of workers and equality in the workplace are hot topics in the political arena and yet there are blatant breaches of overseas worker privileges in our own backyard.

Related news:
Foreign workers "enslaved"
Manila hits out on work visas
Hundreds ride the conveyor belt to fortune
Deaths prompt calls of 457 visa inquiry

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