Saudi Arabia likely to pay P4.6B unpaid wages to OFWs in December

Published November 2, 2021, 3:00 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is expected to pay the P4.6 billion unpaid salaries to around 9,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who were forced to return to the Philippines last 2016.


Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III is optimistic that the wages will be settled when KSA Labor Minister Ahmed Al-Rajhi visits the country in December, in time for the holiday season.

Last week, Bello met with Al-Rajhi after the latter appealed to lift the Philippines’ suspension on Arab mega recruitment agencies which were responsible for the deployment of migrant workers whose salaries and benefits remained unpaid.

The labor chief assured Al-Rajhi that the Philippine government would lift the deployment ban once salaries and end of contract payments of the OFWs have been settled.

“Our government is really thankful that the meeting with the KSA labor minister was fruitful. Our migrant workers can now have a merry Christmas,” Bello added.

Bello earlier warned of a deployment ban in the kingdom after it refused to pay the billions’ worth of unpaid wages and benefit of the thousands of OFWs who were repatriated in 2016.

This, even after the affected workers, through the help of state lawyers, won the case over their unsettled pay in the Middle Eastern country.

Meanwhile, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) chief Hans Leo Cacdac said the two governments are set to discuss how the payment will be distributed.

“Magkakaroon pa ng serye ng pagpupulong betwen Secretary Bello and the KSA labor minister para mabigyang linaw ang implementasyon ng pagbabayad ng sahod (There will be a series of meetings between Secretary Bello and the KSA labor minister to clarify the implementation of wage payments),” Cacdac said in a virtual briefing on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

With these latest developments, the OWWA administrator added that they are currently studying whether or not to recommend the implementation of a deployment ban on Filipino migrant workers to Saudi Arabia.

“Ang titingnan natin dito ang pangako ng Saudi [government[ na magkakaroon na ng ganap na pag-fulfill ng obligasyon ng employers sa kanilang workers patungkol sa sahod at benepisyo (What are we looking here is the promise of the Saudi government that employers will now fulfill their obligations to their workers regarding wages and benefits),” he noted.