MANILA - An estimated 11,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) employed in large construction and maintenance companies and sub-contractors in Saudi Arabia have been suffering from delayed wages.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said this is what the rapid response team (RRT) found out when it was deployed to assist stranded OFWs in work camps throughout the kingdom.
"The DFA RRT provided immediate humanitarian assistance to these OFWs, and brought their situation to the attention of the senior officials of these companies, and with the Saudi government authorities," the DFA said in a statement.
The RRT said that the delayed workers' salary ranges from 2 to 6 months of pay. Aside from that, some also are no longer receiving their food allowances and were even threatened with eviction from their accommodations.
For its part, Saudi Deputy Labor Minister Ziyad Alsaigh and Saudi Foreign Affairs Deputy Undersecretary for Consular Affairs Ambassador Tammim Al Dusairi assured the DFA RRT that the Saudi government will look into the situation of the OFWs and provide necessary assistance.
The DFA also brought the plight of the OFWs to the attention of the Saudi embassy in Manila.
The DFA and the Department of Labor and Employment and its attached agencies will also send a high level delegation and composite rapid response teams to Saudi Arabia in the coming days to ensure assistance to the OFWs.
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Perfecto Yasay, Jr. recently approved the release of funds for the repatriation of 171 OFWs stranded in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. The DFA will also provide them with legal assistance to pursue their claims for unpaid wages, and other benefits before the Saudi labor courts.
"The DFA will continue to closely monitor the situation of OFWs in Saudi Arabia and other countries, and to provide necessary legal, humanitarian and other consular assistance to OFWs in distress," it assured.
Recently, a video of OFWs from Saudi Arabia appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte for help became viral after it was uploaded on social networking site, Facebook.