The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has started the processing of the claims of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) who were forced to return home in 2016 without getting paid with their salaries and end-of-contract benefits.
This as Secretary Silvestre Bello III directed the creation of a technical working group (TWG) to expedite the process of the pay and benefits of some 9,000 Filipino workers.
He also ordered the inclusion of OFW representatives in the TWG that will meet with its counterpart from the host country to hasten the processing of the claims.
“We acknowledge the urgency of your situation and we are ever-conscious that you have been waiting for your hard-earned and well-deserved wages for more than four years,” Bello said in a statement on Thursday.
The DOLE is hoping to form and convene the TWG next week.
Meanwhile, Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) chief Hans Leo Cacdac said all specific details, such as eligibility, distribution mechanism, and documentary requirements, will be finalized through the TWG and should be ready before the scheduled visit of Saudi Arabia’s Labor and Social Development Minister Ahmed Al-Rajhi to Manila in December.
The marching orders came after the successful talks between labor officials from Manila and Riyadh led by Bello and al-Rajhi, respectively, during the Abu Dhabi Dialogue in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates last week.
During the meeting, Al-Rahji agreed to pay the PHP4.6 billion worth of unpaid wages and benefits to affected OFWs.
“The Department will set up a technical working group which will comprise significant DOLE agencies, such as the labor office in KSA, OWWA, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), as well as representatives from the KSA workers’ group, to determine all details relevant to the release of the full settlement,” Cacdac said in a statement.
Former OFWs in the kingdom who attended the meeting virtually thanked Bello for actively working on their case since he took over the DOLE’s helm in 2016. (PNA)