18 July 2016 – Last June 2016, the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) sent a Rapid Response Team (RRT) to assist OFWs stranded in work camps throughout Saudi Arabia. The DFA RRT found that at least 11,000 OFWs in several large Saudi construction and maintenance companies and their sub-contractors were not paid their salaries on time, ranging from 2 to 6 months. Some OFWs were also no longer receiving food allowances and were threatened with eviction from their accommodations. 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.
Saudi Deputy Labor Minister Ziyad Alsaigh and Saudi Foreign Affairs Deputy Undersecretary for Consular Affairs Ambassador Tammim Al Dusairi assured DFA RRT that the Saudi government will look into the situation of the OFWs and provide necessary assistance. The DFA also brought the situation of the OFWs to the attention of the Saudi Embassy in Manila. The DFA, in coordination with DOLE and its attached agencies, will send a high level delegation and composite rapid response teams to Saudi Arabia in the coming days to ensure assistance to the OFWs soonest.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Perfecto R. 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. END.