31 OFWs victim of labor abuses beg for sustenance

HINDI ganun kadali mamalimos (It’s not that easy to beg),’ said some of the thirty-one (31) overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Al-Khobar, in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia, having no money for sustenance after they collectively decided to stop working a week ago over alleged labor abuses by their employer.

The 31 OFWs working for Al Khobar-based establishment Al-Hajri & Partners Contracting Co. as trailer truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, and some as mechanics have stopped working last week over alleged numerous labor abuses by their employer, according to migrants’ rights campaigner Migrante-Middle East (M-ME).

“We received written complaints signed by the OFWs through our Migrante colleagues in Al-Khobar after the 31 OFWs sought assistance from us,” said M-ME regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona.

Monterona said the OFWs alleged, as stipulated on their signed complaints, they were victim of contract substitution, illegal salary deduction, salary down grading, no sick leave, no medical and health insurance, delayed salary, they were told to drive even without license, non-payment of overtime work, working for more than 8 hours a day, poor accommodation, they were not given original residence permit or Iqama and verbal abuse from their employer.

The protesting OFWs 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.

Monterona noted that the 31 OFWs will be the 7th group of OFWs in Saudi Arabia that protested and staged a stop-work-protest against their respective employers since 4th quarter of last year (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.

Monterona noted that these groups of 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 PH 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 averred.

“If the Aquino govt. could not even uphold and defend Filipino workers’ rights and interests in the country, so how could it be for Filipino workers abroad who have been deprived of their labor rights and welfare? Unfortunately, PNoy administration is anti-labor like the previous administrations,” Monterona lamented.

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