Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Filipinos in KSA air work grievances to PHL congressional delegation

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) had the chance to air their work grievances in a meeting with a Philippine congressional delegation headed by Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello in Riyadh on Sunday.

Although the delegation did not make promises, it took note of the grievances relayed by the OFWs, according to a report of Arab News on Tuesday.

“We have come to the Kingdom in high spirits. The government is enjoying an 80 percent rating, which means high confidence from the people. There’s a sense that reforms will be achieved and Congress is determined to help in coming up with a new era for Filipinos," Bello said.

Bello is the chairperson of the Congressional Committee on Overseas Workers (COWA).

During the meeting, Bello told the OFWs they would listen to their grievances “without making promises but we’ll do our level best as members of the Congressional Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs."

“We know that there are imperfections here and there. Nobody is perfect. The Saudi Labor Law, for instance, does not cover OFWs with low salaries. There has to be a bilateral accord on this," he said, referring to OFWs working as domestic helpers, household drivers and farm hands in the Kingdom.

Bello said the delegation will present a report to the Congress on the results of their mission in KSA.

“When we get back to the Philippines, we’ll make a frank and unvarnished report," he said.

OFW concerns

During the meeting on Sunday, various issues affecting OFWs were discussed such as:

  • the establishment of workers cooperatives in KSA;

  • bilateral agreements between the Philippines and KSA on labor protection;

  • repatriation of undocumented OFWs;

  • setting up of an OFW hospital, and

  • representation of OFWs in Congress.

    Fact-finding mission

    The fact-finding mission aims to address the concerns and issues affecting the country’s estimated 1.4 million OFWs.

    On Sunday, those who welcomed Bello and the other members of the delegation were Philippine Charge d’Affaires Ezzedin Tago, key embassy officials, and Filipino community leaders.

    Aside from Bello, the other members of the delegation include Reps. Cresente Paez (Coop-NATCO Party-List), Emmeline Aglipay (DIWA Party-List), and Maria Apsay (District 1, Compostela Valley Province).

    The delegation was to leave for Jeddah on Tuesday and proceed to Alkhobar on Wednesday.

    Those present at the meeting were Third Secretary and Vice Consul Roussel Reyes, Administrative Officer Arimao Cotawato, Labor Attaché Adam Musa and Welfare Officer Cesar Chavez of the POLO-Central Region, Cultural Attaché Rose Malicse and Attaché Sheila Solas. – VVP, GMANews.TV
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