DOLE mulls total deployment ban to Saudi Arabia over unpaid OFWs

Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 18 2021 08:52 PM

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MANILA - The Department of Labor and Employment is considering a total deployment ban to Saudi Arabia after reports bared thousands of OFWs remain unpaid by their employers in the Middle Eastern state.

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Monday the department has sent a memorandum to President Rodrigo Duterte, seeking authority to discuss the issue with the minister of Saudi Arabia this month.

“I would like to take up with the minister the issue of our unpaid workers … who have been working 1 to 2 years and have not been paid salaries, including end of services pay,” Bello said in a virtual press conference.

Bello said around 9,000 Filipino migrant workers in Saudi Arabia have not received their salaries even as the country's courts have ruled in their favor.

“If they do not settle the claims of our OFWs, we will study the possibility to protect our OFWs to impose a total deployment ban, until the claims of our OFWs have been fully settled,” the labor secretary said.

Duterte has yet to respond to DOLE's request.

Last month, the labor department also considered a suspension of deployment of OFWs to Saudi Arabia over incidents of "maltreatment."

Bello had said the proposal came after a retired Saudi general was accused of maltreating Filipino domestic helpers.

The DOLE in late May ordered a deployment ban to Saudi Arabia after it received reports that OFWs were required by their employers or foreign recruitment agencies to shoulder the cost of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

It lifted the ban days later after the Saudi government mandated foreign employers to shoulder the costs of COVID-19 health protocols of OFWs upon arrival.