There is a very large retail group operating here in Oman with stores based all around the country. It advertises itself worldwide as an employer with a particular focus on the Philippines recruitment market.
Young Filipinos with very little world experience and a desperate need for better wages and a better life, are shipped over here en masse to work for this company. They are given mediocre accommodation and the overtime payments that were promised are sporadically paid, although not without a fight for some people.
The hours are ridiculously long and some of the kids I have met, have over 25 "pending days off" that they know they will neither see nor get paid for.
But they soldier on silently, as to grumble would mean dismissal and a return to the hell of life in Manila on 6,000 pesos a month. They are over a barrel as such.
They also can't leave because their passports are confiscated when they arrive to stop them from leaving, and even if they had one, they have to have a letter from their employer to get permission to leave the country. (Surely this is illegal! Human Rights anyone? The right to free passage and travel?)
But the thing that bothers me most, is when an individual decides to further exploit these people for his own benefits. In this case, naive and terrified young Filipina girls.
This Indian man is what is known in his organisation as a Concept Manager - and I am hoping that someone reading this will be able to put two and two together and work out who he is.
He is in charge of multiple stores, and here is how he operates.
(BTW, this man is married and his wife and child live in Muscat with him and visit the stores regularly, however, the girls are too terrified to bring this up.)
First, he locates a new Filipina staff member. He has a preference for the younger ones, and introduces himself as the Concept Manager, usually elevating his status to a higher level than it actually is.
He then starts to talk about how he can get them promoted very quickly to managers and is generally nice and pleasant about it.
The thoughts of an increase of 30 rials a month in salary is very attractive to these girls, so they listen and then when he asks for their mobile number so that he can get back to them about it, they give it to him.
Then the text messages begin: "You looked cute today in your uniform." "You have a nice smile.", "I like you a lot and can help you. Let's be friends.", "Hey! Can we go out sometime?"
He also calls them at all hours of the night requesting dates and meetings, and when refused, the veiled threats begin.
He has the power to send people far away from their friends - to Sohar or Salalah. All of a sudden the girls sales performance is an issue, or their attitude. And they live in fear of a transfer. One girl arrived at our door in floods of tears two nights ago and I am now at the point where I want to act on this.
He tried it on with mine a few months back and was told in no uncertain terms what would happen to him should he ever come within a donkey's roar of her again.
We still have the text messages and have instructed the other girls to keep theirs as well.
The only trouble is that complaining to his superiors will fall on deaf ears as the Indian mafia once again do an arse-covering operation.
Any suggestions on what other options I can take here? I have my thoughts on a few!