By Claire Ferris-Lay
Reports allege labour laws broken by delayed salaries and illegal deductions.
More than 200 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Saudi Arabia have stopped working in protest of alleged violation of labour laws.
The employees, who work for the Al-Arab Contracting Co, have complained of delayed salaries, illegal deductions and non-payment of overtime, according to Manila-based broadsheet The Inquirer.
They were forced to sign new contracts containing provisions different from the ones stated in their previous contracts, which their recruiters secured for them back in the Philippines, watchdog Migrante Middle East told the Philippines-based newspaper.
“Until today, we’re still awaiting our November 2009 salaries. When we were recruited from the Philippines, we were not informed that the company will withhold our two-month salary until we finish our contract. This means that the company didn’t follow Article 61.1 of the Saudi Labor Law,” John Leonard Monterona, the regional coordinator for Migrante Middle East, quoted one of the workers as saying.
The workers wrote to the human resources manager but complained that their concerns were not addressed so contacted the Migrante’s Riyadh-based affiliate, the Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (Brotherhood in the Middle East) and the Philippine Embassy, said Monterona.
“The OFWs, however, expressed their dissatisfaction with the answers provided to them by the our officials and after sensing that their complaints would lead to nowhere, all collectively decided to stop working starting February 6,” Monterona told the newspaper.
People should know that although we have excellent law protecting employees yet these laws are not followed or there are ways to go around them. An employer in the Gulf and especially in Saudi Arabia would treat an employer as bad as he would and there will be not law enforcement. All this keep continuing as long as governments do not enforce their law and employees have nowhere to go to. If we have a labor law enforcement we would have a highly qualified workers and better live for all.