Filipinos in Serbia on hunger strike over non-payment of salary

VILLASIS, Pangasinan – A party list group is asking the government to find out whether there are Filipinos with an international construction firm based in Serbia in Eastern Europe whose workers have gone on a “hunger strike” over non-payment of their salaries.

The ABP Party List identified the construction firm as Ratko Matrovic which has shut down its operations because it has gone bankrupt.

Because of the international nature of Ratko Matrovic operations, the ABP expressed concern that there are Filipinos suffering with the workers on hunger strike.

Remate learned of the hunger strike in Serbian from representatives of the ABP Party List pushing an awareness campaign for the welfare of workers in the construction industry. The Comelec has put the ABP at No. 111 of the approved party list candidates in the 2013 elections.

The representatives said a prime mover of ABP, architect Enrique Olonan, has called also on international labor groups to support the striking and hungry workers in Serbia.

So far, aside from the ABP, other international labor organizations which have expressed support to the Serbia-based construction workers on hunger strike include the Serbia-based BWI, The National Union of Building and Construction Workers in the Philippines, the National Union of Civil Engineering Construction Furniture and Wood Workers of Nigeria, the 27,000-member strong First Union of New Zealand, the Kerala Kettida Nirmana Thozhilali Congress of India and Unterschreibe die Petition als Solidaritätzeichnen of Germany.

“Construction work takes a lot of sweat to make a meager sum covering a day’s hard work. It’s not fair for Ratko Matrovic not to pay because company shutdown is not a valid reason for non-payment of salaries. Construction workers are not slaves,” Olonan said.

Olonan added that from reports he gathered, the construction workers were not even given an audience to be heard.

After the company went bankrupt, workers automatically were stripped of their jobs and were not able to get what remained of their salaries, some dating back to March of last year.

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