The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) assured yesterday a group of overseas Filipino workers who were repatriated from Saudi Arabia of help in claiming their unpaid wages and benefits from their employers.

Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod, in a meeting with a group of OFWs who were formerly employed at Mohammad Al-Mojil Group (MMG) in Saudi Arabia, said that providing the distressed workers with assistance is the department’s priority. He however clarified that the government needs time to assess the concerns of the workers, most especially their unpaid wages and benefits from their employers in the Middle East.

The MMG workers were repatriated in August last year. They have not received their wages despite the claims cases that the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Al Khobar had filed against the company.

OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said the agency is doing the best it can to assess the situation and coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), which handles the case of the MMG workers.

“We are in close coordination with DFA. They have hired lawyers which will prioritize and personally handle the case for immediate resolution. However, they cannot give us an exact date on when the disbursement of the unpaid wages will be because the process of auction and liquidation of MMG assets are still on-going in the Middle East,” Cacdac said.

It can be noted that DOLE and the Saudi Ministry of Labor have signed an agreement which will hasten the repatriation of OFWs as well as the processing of their wages and benefits claims before the Saudi court.

“OWWA is also balancing the situation. We have been assured that our counterpart in Saudi will act immediately on our claims. We signed the agreement before President Rodrigo Duterte and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saudi,” the OWWA official added.

 

#Paul Ang

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