PHILIPPINES: From Misery to Miracle - Rafael Ambrad’s Victory

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After almost a year of waiting the National Labour Relations Commission (NLRC) has decided in favour of 26-year-old migrant worker Rafael Alejo Ambrad, who stopped working after being permanently debilitated due to severe overwork by his employer the Admiral Overseas Employment Corporation and Medtel WN WILL. 


Ambrad, who hails from Cebu City (Philippines), was deployed in Qatar for Medtel WN WILL through his recruitment agency Admiral as carpenter/gypsum installer. He joined the company in September 2014, and on one occasion during his employment was forced to do five days worth of work in only two days with only one helper (the job would normally require at least four) and no lifting device, as well as installing gypsum board in extremely confined spaces. 


After this spell Ambrad quickly found himself in acute pain, suffering a lumbar sprain, a very rare condition for young people. He can no longer lift heavy objects and will never be able to work in construction again.  He resigned on March 2015 as severe pain and the company’s refusal to provide assistance, paid sick leave or cover medical fees meant he could no longer continue working. Upon returning home he filed a complaint at the NLRC with the assistance from Associated Labour Union (ALU), a BWI Philippine affiliate. 


The NLRC’s judgement found that under the circumstances Ambrad’s resignation amounted to an illegal dismissal, while the respondent continually ignored his medical condition. For this the respondent is required to pay a monetary award of QAR 20,063.83 (US$5,509). This includes the payment of the six-month salary covering the unexpired portion of his contract, unpaid salary of one month, gratuity pay, annual leave pay, refund of PATAKA (RPID), salary differential of 200 QAR per month for 18 months period and 10% attorney’s fees. 


“My Qatar experience is very traumatic,” reflected Ambrad, who is now a college student. “I felt helpless and I thought I will be like some of the Filipino migrant workers who will go home in a coffin. For me, going back home alive is a miracle, and now winning this case, is completely wonderful. I will be forever grateful to the BWI who never gave up on me. I felt like I am part of a family.”