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Former OFW wins labor case vs. recruiter, employer

A 26-year-old former OFW in Qatar who suffered health problems due to severe overwork has won his labor case against his recruiter and employer before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).

After a year of handling the case, the NLRC ruled in favor of Rafael Alejo Ambrad, who had to stop working in 2015 after being permanently debilitated due to overwork.

Ambrad, who is from Cebu province, went to Qatar in September 2014 to work as a carpenter but had to resign months later after he experienced acute pain due to a lumbar sprain.

According to him, on one occasion, he was forced to do five days' worth of work in only two days with only one helper, adding the job would normally require at least four workers. He said he also wasn't provided a lifting device by the company.

A statement from the Associated Labor Union (ALU), one of the groups that helped Ambrad pursue his labor case, said the OFW's condition meant he could no longer lift heavy objects and thus could never work in construction again.

After the company's alleged refusal to provide him assistance and paid sick leave, as well as to cover his medical fees, Ambrad resigned on March 2015.

"My Qatar experience is very traumatic," Ambrad said. "I felt helpless and I thought I will be like some of the Filipino migrant workers who will go home in a coffin."

However, according to the NLRC, under the circumstances Ambrad's resignation amounted to an illegal dismissal, noting that the respondent continually ignored his medical condition.

In its ruling, the NLRC  ordered the respondent to pay a monetary award of QAR 20,063.83 (US$5,509), including the payment of the six-month salary covering the unexpired portion of Ambrad's 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 percent attorney’s fees. 

Ambrad is now a college student, according to ALU. —KBK, GMA News