AL KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia–From typical wage earners to common beggars abroad.
This is the plight of 31 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), after they became penniless when they collectively stopped reporting on their work for Al Khobar-based establishment Al-Hajri & Partners Contracting Co. in Saudi Arabia over alleged labor abuses by their employer, according to migrants rights leader John Leonard Monterona.
“We received written complaints signed by the OFWs through our Migrante colleagues in Al-Khobar after the 31 OFWs sought assistance from us,” Monterona said.
“In their complaints, the OFWs alleged they were victim of contract substitution, illegal salary deduction, salary down grading, no sick leave, no medical and health insurance, delayed salary.”
Also they were told to drive even without license, non-payment of overtime work, working for more than 8 hours a day, poor accommodation, not given original residence permit or Iqama, and worst, regular verbal abuse from their employer, added Monterona.
“They have already sought assistance from the PH labor officials in Al-Khobar but still awaiting action from the latter, a factor that prompted them to stop working since last week,” said Monterona, the Migrante’s regional coordinator in Middle East.
According to the group, the 31 workers became the 7th group of OFWs in Saudi Arabia that protested and staged a stop-work-protest against their respective employers since 4th quarter of 2011.
Among them are working for Al Swayeh (88 OFWs), Al-Zahran (48 OFWs), Al-Sabillah (19 OFWs), Al-Dalawi (12 OFWs), Al-Naseeb (17 OFWs), Al-Huraish (12 OFWs), and then the 31 OFWs of Al-Hajri & Partners Co.
The OFW leader has said the protesting OFWs have “more or less generic complaints against their respective employers that sprung from labor rights violations issues.”
“What is quite appalling is the slow, if not failure, to provide assistance by Philippine labor officials that prompted these groups of OFWs to collectively stop working. On-site DoLE officials are not acting to press the employers to give in to the rightful demands of the protesting OFWs,” Monterona said in a statement.
‘Hindi ganun kadali mamalimos (It’s not that easy to beg),’ said some of the 31 workers who were assigned as trailer truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, and some as mechanics.
In October, 10 Filipino construction workers under the Ali-Fahad Al Huraish Establishment based in Al-Hasa, Saudi Arabia also became garbage scavengers for their daily sustenance while awaiting for the progress of their labor complaints.