Trouble began after complaint made

New contract reduced the Dh1,500 monthly wage by Dh300.

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ABU DHABI // George Cana, 48, arrived in February to work as a carpenter in a Dubai-based building materials company. In March, he and 10 other carpenters, also from the Philippines, were forced to sign a new contract reducing their Dh1,500 monthly wage by Dh300. They also worked unpaid for nearly three months. The men sought help from the Philippine overseas labour office in Dubai after the UAE branch of Migrante, a group set up to protect Filipinos overseas, referred their case to the Filipino labour officials.

They filed a complaint with the Ministry of Labour on April 15, and their company's management agreed to retain their original salary. Mr Cana said the company did not treat them well after that. "We started getting salary deductions," he said. His colleague, Elmer Imperador, 38, said the company became "very strict". "We were forced to complete a job quickly," he said. "If we were unable to finish it at a given time, they automatically deducted a day's salary from us."

Soon their visas were cancelled by the company and, in May, the group returned to the Philippines. Yuri Cipriano, the vice-chairman of Migrante-UAE, said it encouraged the group to file a complaint against their recruitment agency in Manila. Mr Cana said the workers decided to accept a settlement of 32,000 pesos (Dh2,600) from the recruitment agency. With six children to support, he had been applying for construction jobs in Oman and Vietnam, he said.