At least 1,470 overseas Filipino workers who were displaced by the lock-out of their employer, Azmeel Contracting and Construction Corporation, will be repatriated from Saudi Arabia, the Department of Labor and Employment said Tuesday.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III led a team of Philippine government officials to Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia to assist the thousands of displaced Filipino workers in going back home after their employer did not pay them their salaries for more than four months.
Bello said Azmeel Contracting excluded its employees from their place of work after its assets were frozen by the Saudi government.
He said prior to the lockout, the employer failed to pay the workers’ four months salaries, which prompted workers to stage a protest.
Earlier, Bello said at least $50,000 had been sent as financial assistance to the affected OFWs.
The DoLE chief said he would meet with the officials of the Ministry of Labor of Saudi Arabia to discuss the repatriation of the OFWs and the payment of their back wages.
“I will talk with the Minister of Labor of Saudi Arabia on the repatriation of our OFWs and the request for the Saudi government’s assistance to look for jobs elsewhere, as well as legal assistance to collect their monetary claims from their employer,” Bello said.
Bello hoped the Ministry of Labor would allow OFWs who wish to continue working in KSA, to transfer to other companies, adding Filipinos did not participate in the protest rally initiated by workers who are nationals of other countries.
A team composed of OWWA and DSWD will extend counseling and debriefing to the distressed OFWs, while members from DoH will help in providing relief and medical assistance.
“I am hoping that those who will be repatriated will be able to join their families this coming holiday season. OWWA, the Bureau of Local Employment and the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns will provide livelihood assistance for them upon their return,” Bello added.