Fifty-two, mostly women overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), working as housekeepers assigned at King Fahad Hospital in Al-Baha, Saudi Arabia have stopped working over alleged underpayment and illegal deductions of their salaries, according to Filipino migrants group Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) local chapter in the oil-rich Kingdom.
The OFWs are employees of Al-Zahran company who have been complaining since March 2011 and have sought assistance to Migrante-Al Baha chapter. They were deployed by Al-Haram recruitment agency, the local tie-up agency in the Philippines of Al-Zahran company.
On a letter dated March 3, 2011 addressed to the POLO-OWWA in Jeddah, the OFWs stated they "agreed and signed the contract which means we finished 2 years contract with a salary of US$300 per month with overtime pay, but until now we receive only 500 Saudi riyals (SR) every month, 100 SR is cut by the agency. We are not satisfied of our salary (500 SR) a month, no food allowance, and no overtime more than 8 hours duty."
"Upon receipt of their complaints, I immediately endorsed their complaints to the PH overseas labor office in Jeddah for their intervention by calling the attention of their employer to settle the complaints of the OFWs," said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.
Labor Attache Vicente Cabe of POLO-Jeddah sent a letter dated March 14 to the assistant executive director of King Fahad Hospital in Al-Baha stating "we seek your help to address the problems to communicate with the Al-Zarahn Company to resolve these issues with their Filipino employees."
"Last week, the complaining OFWs have called me saying that until now their complaints have not been attended by their company and they were not assisted by POLO, thus they have to stop working today, a Saturday," Monterona revealed.
Monterona said he had called labor attaché Albert Valenciano after he learned that POLO-Jeddah pass on the case to POLO-Riyadh as Al-Zahran's main office is located in Riyadh. "Labatt Valenciano informed me that they sent two letters to the company but did not receive a reply, thus he recommended its suspension or ban along with its local counterpart agent in the Philippines," Monterona added.
"I have suggested to POLO-Riyadh to study the filing of a case at the Saudi labor court as the complaining OFWs manifested their willingness to file a case against their employer," Monterona added.
Monterona said these OFWs are working as housekeepers who should be receiving a minimum wage of US$400 as per DoLE-POEA reform package program for household service workers (HSWs)
"The 52 OFWs have been fooled by their recruitment agent in the Philippines; the agency owner must be summoned and investigated. Pending investigation it must be suspended so that it can't continue victimizing our fellow OFWs and prospective HSWs," Monterona concluded.