Ople: DMW to discuss unpaid wages of OFWs during Saudi Arabia trip
MANILA, Philippines — The government will discuss with several stakeholders in Saudi Arabia, along with government officials, the unpaid wages claims of over 12,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the country, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said.
Ople in an online briefing on Friday said that she will be leaving the country for Saudi Arabia on Sunday, first visiting Riyadh and then Al Khobar.
She said Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Undersecretaries Bernard Olalia and Undersecretary Patricia Yvonne Caunan have already arrived in the Middle East country.
“The agenda, our meetings in Saudi Arabia would be number one of course, very important ‘yong updates about the claims of around 12,000 OFWs with unpaid wages,” Ople told reporters.
“The list is comprised of around 12,000 claimants, merong additional number but these are workers na couldn’t provide their Iqama numbers, but we included them anyway as a separate list so that the Saudi government can verify. The list will be composed of 12,000 to 15,000 names of potential claimants to be validated by the Saudi government,” she added.
It could be remembered that OFWs have been clamoring for the payment of unsettled salaries that happened when Saudi Arabia was forced to layoff workers when an oil price crash happened between 2015 to 2017.
Last November 18, the compensation for the OFWs was raised during a meeting between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok.
Around P30.5 billion was pledged for the payment of the displaced OFWs claims. However, OFWs noted that it was not the first time that Saudi’s government made the pledge.
But Ople expressed optimism that they would be able to receive the unpaid claims.
Ople said that she will also meet with the Saudi Ministry of Human Resource and Social Development, headed by Minister Al-Rajhi.
“We will be discussing with my counterpart the steps forward. So ‘pag na-approve ‘yong list of claimants, or magkaroon ng unified list, what happens next? So those are the kind of official talks with Minister Al-Rajhi of the Saudi Ministry of Human Resource and Social Development, the formal talks would be on Wednesday,” she said.
“We will be meeting also with the private sector there, we will of course be meeting with the new head of their human rights commission. Hopefully this will open doors to more jobs for our workers, better protection, especially for those in the more vulnerable categories like our kasambahay, a possible discussion on wages, and resolution of the claims of unpaid wages of around 12,000 to hopefully around 14,000 Filipino workers dating back to 2015 to 2016,” she added.