MANILA – The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is expected to pay PHP4.6 billion in unpaid salaries to 9,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were forced to return home after they stopped receiving remuneration.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is optimistic the payment will be made when KSA counterpart Ahmed Al-Rajhi visits the country in December this year.
“The unpaid salaries of our OFWs can be settled just in time for Christmas,” Bello said in a news release on Sunday.
Bello was in KSA last week to attend the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD), a forum for talks and cooperation between Asian countries of labor origin and destination held Oct. 25 to 29.
The dialogue sought to enable safe, orderly, and regular migration in some of the world’s largest temporary labor migration corridors.
Bello was invited by Al-Rajhi to a private meeting Oct. 26 at Habtoor Palace Dubai where the KSA labor minister appealed for the lifting of the suspension on Arab recruitment agencies which deployed the OFWs whose salaries and benefits remained unpaid.
Bello said the ban would be lifted once the salaries are settled.
The unpaid OFWs who were repatriated in 2016 won their cases against KSA through the help of state lawyers
However, the salaries are still unpaid to date.
“Our government is really thankful that the meeting with the KSA labor minister was fruitful,” Bello said. “Now, our migrant workers can have a merry Christmas.”
The ADD, established in 2008, consists of the 11 member states of labor consultation Colombo Process, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam; six Gulf countries of destination Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates; and Malaysia. (PNA)