Bello to discuss repatriation of displaced OFWs with Saudi labor officials
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is set to discuss with officials of the Ministry of Labor of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia the repatriation and payment of the back wages of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) displaced by the lockout of their employer, Azmeel Contracting Corp.
“I will talk with the Minister of Labor of Saudi Arabia on the repatriation of our OFWs and the request for the Saudi government’s assistance to look for jobs elsewhere, as well as legal assistance to collect their monetary claims from their employer,” Bello said in a statement.
He is confident the Ministry of Labor will allow OFWs who wish to continue working in KSA to transfer to other companies, as they did not participate in the protest rally initiated by workers who are nationals of other countries.
Still, repatriation is an option for the OFWs, Bello said, adding that prior to their return, a team from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and Department of Social Welfare and Development will provide counseling and debrief them while the Department of Health (DOH) will provide relief and medical assistance.
“I am hoping that those who will be repatriated will be able to join their families this coming holiday season. OWWA, the Bureau of Local Employment and the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns will provide livelihood assistance for them upon their return,” Bello said.
Bello flew to Al Khobar with OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac and officials of DSWD, Department of Foreign Affairs and DOH to assist some 1,470 OFWs displaced by the lockout.
Based on a report received by OWWA, Bello said Azmeel Contracting excluded its employees from their place of work after its assets were frozen by the Saudi government.
The report also said prior to the lockout, the employer failed to pay the workers’ four months salaries which led them to stage a protest.#