Migrante: Recall Inept Welfare and Labor Officials Handling Case of Distressed OFWs in Saudi

Press Release
5 March 2010

Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of overseas Filipino migrant workers in the Middle East, today calls for the recall of welfare and labor officials who are handling the case of distress OFWs working for their erring employer Annasban Co. in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“The officials of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia who are handling the case of the distress OFWs working for Annasban Co., including the 43 that were repatriated last February this year and the 5 who are also pleading for their repatriation staying at present at their company barracks, must be recalled by the Department of Labor and Employment Chief Marianito Roque,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said Welfare Officer Nestor Burayag, Labor Attaches Cesar Chavez and Rustico De la Fuente must be summoned in time for the investigation to be conducted by the Labor Department to explain the issue of who really provided the airfare tickets of the repatriated distress OFWs, why the distress OFWs have not been paid of their unpaid salaries and the illegal deductions were not paid to them before their repatriation, and what actions they have done or are doing to provide assistance to the remaining 5 distress OFWs.

Monterona further said since the recruitment agencies of the distress such as the United Placeman, Global Jobsearch, Placewell International, and Saveway International claimed that they are the ones that provided the food, financial assistance, and airfare tickets for the repatriated distress OFWs during their stay at the barracks of their company in Riyadh contrary to what the distress OFWs are saying, a written report should be submitted by the Welfare and Labor officials concerned along with their presence during the Labor department-lead investigation.

“The presence of these officials is necessary so that a thorough investigation of the issue would take place in order for the Labor Department to take cognizance and get lessons of how their officials abroad are treating our distress OFWs, and of what kind of service they are providing to distress OFWs that many claimed that they have not been properly attended and even neglected,” Monterona added.

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Monterona said the issue of labor malpractices such us contract substitution, delayed salary, illegal deductions, no provision for medical insurance, among many others are repeatedly committed by an erring employer that RP labor and welfare officials could not solve is an indication that there is something wrong; these officials who are supposed to represent the best interests and welfare of our deployed workers in relation to their abusive employers.

“What the RP overseas labor officials doing in cases of contract substitution? If they could not defend the provision stipulated in the original contract of the deployed OFWs, then they should be recalled immediately without wasting the funds of the government,” Monterona averred.

Monterona questioned the benefit of having bilateral labor deal inked by the RP government with the host migrant receiving governments if even the employment contact signed by our OFWs could easily been abrogated by their employers upon arrival of the hired OFWs by letting them sign a new contract with contrary provisions to the one they have originally signed in the Philippines through their respective recruitment agencies.

“Once the original employment contract has been substituted or abrogated, the hired OFWs labor status becomes problematic, thus his or her labor rights could easily be abused and violated by their employers,” Monterona averred.

“As we have been saying the RP government under the Arroyo regime does not really represent the interests and welfare of the millions deployed OFWs abroad as it has no pure intentions of protecting them from their abusive employers; it only has meager and lip-service on-site welfare assistance and services for our OFWs abroad with the implementation of OWW Omnibus Policies when she became the President,” Monterona claimed.

“Like previous administration, the Arroyo regime is much interested only to the billions of remittances sent back home by us, OFWs working hard abroad; but she wantonly neglecting the safety of our well being, rights and welfare. A Presidential candidate who has the same thinking who does not value the contribution of OFWs to the economy by giving them back more social welfare programs and genuine services does not deserve even a single vote from OFWs and their families,” the Saudi-based OFW leader ended. # # #

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator

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