SAUDI ARABIA — The Saudi Arabian government has undertaken the task of addressing wage claims brought forward by more than 10,000 Filipino workers who were made redundant. The wave of layoffs was a result of bankruptcy declared by several Riyadh-based construction companies in 2015 and 2016. This was revealed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Saturday, based on Manila time.
During a press interaction held in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, President Marcos disclosed that he has received confirmation from the Saudi authorities that they are actively working towards settling the outstanding wage claims of the affected Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
When approached for an update on the government’s actions to secure the owed back wages for the over 10,000 affected OFWs, President Marcos responded, “Napo-process na ngayon ‘yun,” translating to “It is being processed now.”
Marcos further clarified, “We are already coming to the point na ‘yung detalye na lang ang pinag-uusapan. ‘Yung listahan ng mga claimant ay nalinis na, maayos na,” which can be interpreted as “We are now at a stage where only the details are being discussed. The list of claimants has been cleared and sorted.” He added that the final settlement depends on the details being agreed upon by the Saudi side.
APEC Summit: Hope for OFWs
During a bilateral meeting conducted on the fringe of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit held in Bangkok, Thailand in November 2022, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman assured Marcos that an estimated 2 billion riyals would be allocated to cater to the wage claims of the displaced OFWs. This pledge came after several construction firms in Saudi Arabia declared bankruptcy, leading to a significant number of job losses.
President Marcos emphasized that there isn’t a specific date confirmed for the release of wage claims. “I cannot provide an exact date because it is contingent upon the internal processes in Saudi Arabia. However, I am confident that the payments will be made. It is a matter of when rather than if,” he reassured.
Marcos continued, “In essence, in principle, itutuloy talaga nila ‘yung pagbayad doon sa insurance claims ng mga nagtatrabaho sa mga negosyo na nalugi,” meaning “They will genuinely continue to pay the insurance claims of those who were employed by the businesses that went bankrupt.”
The Aftermath of the Bankruptcies: Thousands of OFWs Laid Off
In the wake of the bankruptcy declarations by Saudi Oger Ltd., Mohammad Al Mojil Group, and other construction firms in Saudi Arabia during 2015 and 2016, nearly 13,000 OFWs found themselves unemployed, as per information from the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).
The DMW’s data indicates that the total number of claimants from Saudi Oger and Mohammad Al Mojil stand at 8,829 and 3,454 respectively.
Humanitarian Aid for Awaiting OFWs
In a commendable move, the DMW announced in March that it would offer PHP10,000 in humanitarian aid to each OFW pending their back wage.
The funding for this relief measure was jointly sourced from the DMW, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.