|3 Pinays in Norway human smuggling scandal|
| [10.03.2012, 11:26am, Sat. GMT]|
|Three Filipino nurses are now at the center of a human smuggling scandal in Norway, after it was revealed in a report that they were illegally recruited by a furniture repair firm to work as nurses at the Oslo University Hospital (OUS). The furniture firm, Restauro Antik Maritim, is owned by couple Lars and Ruby Backer. Ruby, who is a Filipina, was reported to have been behind the recruitment of the Filipino nurses. The OUS has now filed a fraud case against the couple.In the same report by the national broadcaster, NRK, it was found that the work papers of the nurses were signed by a section leader of the hospital with the furniture firm listed as their recruiters.|
The nurses, who were not named but talked to an NRK reporter on camera, said they were forced by their recruiter to take up loans of up to 300,000 kroners (P2.1 M) each from the Den Norske Bank (DnB). Then, they were told that they have to pay 6000 kroner per month for the loan from their salary.
Their recruiters also put them up in a luxurious house that they share with three others at Holmenkollåsen, for which they were asked to pay 11,000 kroners (P77,000) each for lodging. Average rent for a two room apartment in Oslo is 10,000 kroner a month.
The nurses also told the NRK reporter that they were instructed not to tell anyone about their situation and that their recruiters even bought food for them.
After coming out in the media, the nurses have now moved out of their house and have gone into hiding for fear of reprisal. As this story is being written, ABS-CBN Europe is talking to contacts to get access to the nurses.
Restauro Antik Maritim owner Lars Backer, who was interviewed in the same report, denied any wrongdoing and turned the tables on the hospital, saying that he was just acting as their middleman.
Today, the Oslo University Hospital was reported to the police by Parliament member Kari Kjoenaas Kjos for human trafficking.
“We don’t buy women to Norway to work for our health sector,” Kjos wrote in her report to the police.
She also said that the hospital should take responsibility for the case. Its administrative director, Bjørn Erikstein, said that he has now ordered an internal investigation of the case while the health ministry said it will wait for the report before it comments on the case.
Meanwhile, the Norwegian Nurses Union (NSF) reacted strongly to the case and said that they were “shocked” by the circumstances told them by the nurses.
“Without the support and the membership in the NSF, they would not have felt safe to tell their horrible stories,” NSF leader Eli Gunhild By was quoted in their organization’s website.
“I am proud of the job that our union steward at the OUS has done. It shows in practice how important it is to be organized with us. One gets help when one needs it,” By added.
For years, the Philippine have tried to negotiate a bilateral agreement with Norway on the exchange of health personnel, especially nurses, to no avail.
The Philippine labor government said that there are around 100,000 unemployed nurses in the country today prompting Labor secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to advise them to take up jobs as call center agents in the booming business process outsourcing industry.
Government estimates that around 60,000 nurses graduate each year, only to find themselves unable to work as nurses forcing them to seek employment abroad.