Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with pending salary claims in Saudi Arabia may now apply for financial assistance with the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA), Migrante International (MI) announced.
While the thousands of affected OFWs wait for the result of their claim to unpaid salaries and benefits, MI said OWWA finally decided on giving a financial aid package of P10,000 per worker.
“This is a victory for our Saudi OFWs who took collective action to push for financial assistance from DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) and OWWA while their labor claims are pending in Saudi Arabia,” the group said.
About 9,000 OFWs were forced to return to the Philippines in 2016 after they stopped receiving remuneration from so-called Arab mega recruitment agencies responsible for their deployment to the kingdom.
Last October, labor secretary Silvestre Bello III said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is expected to pay P4.6 billion in unpaid salaries to the OFWs in exchange for the lifting of the Philippine government deployment ban.
MI however pressed the Philippine government to “urgently and proactively” address the non-payment of salaries of the affected OFWs.
“DOLE must also ensure that it provides financial aid to those currently stranded in Saudi Arabia and were likewise affected by the Saudi Crisis because based on the requirements, they are excluded from this financial aid program,” MI added.
The migrants group also said the Philippine government must repatriate OFWs stranded in Saudi Arabia who now wish to come home. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)