Seven Timorese female workers in Dubai are crying for help

Seven Timorese female workers in Dubai are crying for help


DILI, 24 june 2022 (TATOLI) – Seven Timorese female workers identified with the initials BS, ECdR, L, P, M, A, and A have suffered for more than two months at the hands of their employers in Dubai and are now crying for help.

The seven Timorese female migrant workers departed for Dubai without signing any labor contract with the recruitment agency which they are currently working for. However, the documents of the workers had been kept by the employers since their arrival in Dubai. Meanwhile, keeping someone else’s passport is technically illegal in the UAE. These workers are not allowed to have their mobile phones with them, but some of them managed to hide their phones to keep in touch with their loved ones back home.

“I arrived in Dubai on april 24, 2022. I am currently working in a salon. They separated us since our arrival in Dubai. There are seven of us and we are all working in different salons. We don’t have a labor contract. They send us directly to work here,” BS who is currently working in (…) Dubai told TATOLI via Whatsapp.

“Our salary depends on the receipts. So, they will pay us 200 Dirham which equals US$54.45 if we reached 5.000 receipts. We came here with a tourist visa and it has expired already.”

On the other hand, another female worker identified with the initial ECdR who is encountering the same problem also shared her suffering in Dubai: “I arrived on may 19 and my visa was expired on june 19. We were recruited by a recruitment agency in Aimutin-Dili. This agency sent us to Indonesia, and then another recruitment agency in Indonesia sold us to our current employers in Dubai. We are suffering here because they don’t pay us properly. The salary wasn’t what I expected it to be.”

ECdR recounted that they were recruited by the Timorese Recruitment Agency known as Universal Institute Professional of Management (UIPM): “They promised us lots of good things. They told us that in Dubai, we can work while studying at the same time, such as working during the daytime and doing the study at the night time. But what we are experiencing right now is the opposite. Imagine, we live in the worst place compared to our home country. We can’t afford to buy food and drink ourselves.”

She said every day they start working from 9 am to 9 pm: “After finishing work at night, the employers distribute the receipts and each worker must compete with each other to get those receipts. So, 200 Dirham or US$54 is not enough to cover a monthly living expense for a person in Dubai.

Due to such a difficult situation, these female workers are desperately crying for help and wanting to return home. However, their current employers demanded US$80.000 in compensation for the money it has spent on sending them to Dubai.

The residents of seven Timorese workes in Dubai (Photo/Timorese workers in Dubai)

In addition, the female worker identified with the initial A explained that their rights were violated by the employers due to the worst condition and situations at their workplace.

“We have had enough suffering, and we want to go back home. We don’t have a labor contract and they keep our passport which means they don’t want us to leave Dubai. We keep hiding our mobile phones because if they know that we have them with us then they will definitely take them as well,” she stressed.

These female workers have asked their family members back in Timor-Leste numerous times to report their situation to the relevant authorities to search for the Recruitment Agency to be held responsible for sending them to Indonesia and Dubai.

“We are concerned with their situation”

After receiving information on the situation of these Timorese workers, in an interview with a brother of EPCdR identified with the initial EF said that they knew and were aware of the difficult situation facing these female workers in Dubai.

“We know very well about their situation in Dubai. Because they always share with us about the working condition, especially with the poor treatment and their struggle with the cost of living.”

“There are seven of them. I have my sister among these women who are identified with the initial EPCdR, and the other woman is my cousin. We are originally from Quelecai Town in Baucau Municipality,” he said.

EF said UIPM, the Timorese Recruitment Agency is working together with an Indonesian Agency that had a link with the employers in Dubai: “UIPM send them to Indonesia, and then Indonesian Agency would find ways to send them to UAE. So, we have no idea about the Indonesian Recruitment Agency and the whole process of sending workers to Dubai.”

“UIPM is located behind the Ai-Mutin Church. Everyone who lives near the church knows the agency,” he said.

The Recruitment Agency receives US$600

On the other hand, the Chief of the Foundation of Timor-Leste Community Workforce Development (FDKTL), JG said before departing for Dubai, the workers had to pay US$600 to the recruitment agency.

“It’s impossible for the family members to believe how can a person travel to Dubai with only paying US$600. Therefore, FDKTL has spent money to support these workers to find jobs in Dubai as we don’t have many job opportunities available in the country,” he said.

He added that workers reported their situation and lied to their families when they were still in Indonesia, saying as a result the family members of the workers went to the office of the Recruitment Agency, in Aumutin, Dili.

“According to the workplace rules in Dubai, workers are not allowed to have their phone with them at any time while working,” he said.

“The employers keep workers’ passports to ensure they keep working in Dubai. The employers’ concern is that if they let the workers have their passports, then they may lose workers or the workers may apply for the permanent residence in Dubai.”

When asked about the salary, JG denied the monthly 200 Dirham or US$54, saying it’s not true: “It’s impossible to receive such as salary and we need evidence to prove that.”

He said family members had threatened FDKTL numerous times: “But we need evidence to prove and ensure that their statements were true: “So, if the given evidence proved that their statements were true then surely, they will return to Timor-Leste.”

Meanwhile, the manager of the Universal Instituto of Professional Management (UIPM) who refused to reveal his name said that he knew nothing about the recruitment process of sending workers to Dubai, adding that UIPM is under the control of the FDKTL: “These female workers attended English classes at my house.”

When asked about the Legal English Certificate Program of UIPM, he said the registration is ongoing at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ): “But the English class is temporarily closed.”

On the contrary, the Executive Director of Timor-Leste’s Registration and Verification of entrepreneurs’ Service (SERVE), Florêncio Sanches denied the statement, saying UIPM hasn’t been registered on the list of the SERVE.

“We have searched for UIPM but we didn’t find it on the list of all registered companies,” he said.

Sanches said according to Timor-Leste’s law, any illegal company or organization that runs illegal activities may be fined up to US$5.000.




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