Pinoy runaway workers banned from returning to Saudi Arabia

Published by rudy Date posted on June 25, 2009

Filipino workers who will run away from their employers in Saudi Arabia will be banned from returning to the country to work, a local migrant group said yesterday.

Migrante International said distressed and runaway workers will be summarily deported and blacklisted without due process under Saudi’s new labor policy.

“This means runaway overseas Filipino workers will be barred from entering Saudi Arabia to work,” John Leonard Monterona, Migrante Middle East coordinator, said and described the new immigration rule “discriminatory” as it violates the rights of Filipino and foreign workers.

“It grossly disregarded the fact that many foreign workers including our OFWs ran away from their employers because employers have been treating them like slaves and were abused, and subjected to other forms of maltreatment and labor malpractices,” Monterona said.

Abuses committed against Filipino workers, especially domestic helpers deployed to Middle East are rampant but deployment of Filipinos to the region has continued.

Figures culled by Migrante showed that 1,793 Filipinos in Saudi Arabia have requested repatriation since Dec. 31, 2008. Of this number, 566 of them were runaways and 1,019 were in various distress situation.

Monterona said the Filipinos requesting for repatriation were forced to run away from their employers because they were not properly paid, had lived and worked in unsafe conditions and worked more than the required eight-hour work without overtime pay.

Most of them sought refuge in friends’ homes and in overcrowded Philippine embassy-run shelters.

“It should be the erring and abusive employers that need to be blacklisted in hiring our workers, not the other way around,” Monterona said as he urged Philippine Embassy officias in Riyadh to make diplomatic representation with the Saudi government to reconsider its policy.

Meanwhile, Filipinos in Iran were advised by the Philippine Embassy there to take the necessary precautionary measures at home and at work to ensure that no harm would come their way following an ongoing massive crackdown on anti-government protesters.

The Philippine Embassy in Tehran said it was in touch with Filipinos in the area and is now prepared to activate and carry out its contingency plan, including evacuation if needed. There is an estimated 1,500 Filipinos in Tehran, consisting mostly of spouses and children of Iranian nationals. –Michaela P. del Callar, Daily Tribune

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