11 August 2016 – Consulate officials led by Consul General Imelda Panolong met with Mr. Abdullah Bin Mohammed Alolayan, General Director of the Ministry of Labor (MOL) in Makkah region, to discuss the cases of stranded Filipino workers in light of the recent directive of Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, to hasten the resolution of cases of stranded expatriate workers. During the meeting Mr. Alolayan said that the MOL has already dispatched teams to the different camps of Saudi Oger to assist the stranded workers of the company. They have been providing food, water and medical assistance to the workers of Saudi Oger in all its camps in Jeddah.
To resolve the case of the stranded workers in Saudi Oger, Mr. Alolayan said the workers have the option to either go home on final exit or transfer to another company. The Saudi government, through MOL and Immigration (Jawazat), will renew expired residence permits (Iqama), and provide exit visas and plane tickets to the workers who wish to leave. MOL noted that several companies have approached them offering to absorb workers from Saudi Oger. MOL shall facilitate the matching of the job requirements of these companies with those workers who want to be transferred. For workers with unpaid salaries and benefits, they may issue a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) in favor of the Consulate to process the entitlements due them. Workers who are not affected and do not experience delays in their salaries may continue to work. Mr. Alolayan promised to coordinate closely with the Philippine Consulate to facilitate the early resolution of the cases of the stranded Filipino workers.
Also present during the meeting were Consul Rodney Jonas L. Sumague, Labor Attaché Jainal T. Rasul, Jr. and Mr. Muhammad Mahmour S. Qassim (Translator/Interpreter/Conciliator).
Prior to the meeting with MOL, Consul General Panolong, Consul Sumague, Labor Attaché Rasul and Welfare Officer Angel Cruz, Jr., met with officials of the Saudi Binladin Group (SBG) to discuss the cases of affected Filipino workers in the company. Present during the meeting representing SBG were Mr. Khaled J. Thabet, HR Support Services Manager; Mr. Abdullah Y. Balkhair, Talent Management and Development Manager; Mr. Abdulrahman Alsurawi, Head of Complaints Unit; and Ms. Rocel Castro-Samillano, Recruitment Coordinator.
Mr. Thabet informed the Consulate officials that 2,429 Filipino workers are presently still working under SBG in the whole of K.S.A. while 1,069 have signified their intention to go home. Their exit visas and final settlement of benefits are expected to be issued in 2-3 weeks. He gave the assurance that SBG is able to facilitate the exit visas, paying remaining salaries and benefits and providing plane tickets to their workers who want to go home. They may execute a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) in favor of the Consulate to follow up their entitlements if they are unable to wait for its release. Mr. Thabet added that SBG continues to regularly provide food to their workers. Nevertheless, they will investigate reports that there are some project camps which have not been given food and water as raised by the Consulate officials.
On the future of SBG, Mr. Thabet said the company is optimistic that it will recover very soon. Consul General Panolong noted that the 2,429 Filipino workers who opted to continue to work is a positive sign that augurs well for the recovery of the company. Mr. Thabet responded that SBG feels fortunate that the Filipino workers are staying and he further assured the Consulate officials of closer coordination to address the concerns of Filipino workers. END