Hunger strike by Filipino workers in Saudi not true – PHL embassy

July 23, 2012 9:57 pm 

MANILA, July 23 — The Philippines’ top diplomat in Saudi Arabia has belied reports close to 200 Filipino workers went on hunger strike there to protest against labor abuses by their employers and government neglect.

A Philippine migrant worker group last week claimed 180 Filipinos from four different Saudi companies simultaneously held a hunger strike on July 19.

The group, Migrante International, said the workers sought the embassy’s assistance so that their grievances can be addressed.

But it allegedly refused and left the Filipinos to tend for themselves.

The workers on strike eventually ran out of food and resources, the group said.

Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzedin Tago admitted there was a protest action by Filipinos working for Al-Swayeh Co. but only 98 participated.

“The truth is there was no hunger strike in Al Swayeh. The truth is there was no hunger strike by the Al Sabillah workers in Al-Jouf,” Tago said in a statement from Riyadh Monday.

Tago said the workers held a protest to denounce the alleged non-payment of their salaries and end-of-service benefits.

They also protested the company’s failure to issue exit visas to workers who have finished their contracts.

Foreign workers cannot depart Saudi Arabia without an exit visa.

In the course of their demonstration, he said the workers “were provided food supplies from time to time to tide them over.”

Tago added the embassy even paid for the medical needs of 21 of the 98 workers, who complained of not getting health benefits, while another 10 are scheduled for a medical check-up this week.

The envoy said he already wrote to Saudi Prince Sattam bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud twice to seek immediate assistance to the Filipino workers.

In response, a specialized inter-agency committee had been set up by the Saudi government to solve the issue.

The embassy has assigned a labor officer to handle the case and to liaise with the inter-agency committee to resolve the workers’ problems.

In Manila, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration said they are ready to provide plane tickets to the concerned workers should they wish to return home.

Saudi Arabia has the largest concentration of Philippine nationals in the Middle East region, hosting more than 1 million Filipinos, working in the skilled and unskilled sectors. (PNA)



Comments are closed.