30 Pinoy drivers in Saudi complain about working conditions

Published by rudy Date posted on April 27, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – A group of Filipino drivers are living in a deplorable situation in Saudi Arabia.

“Filipino drivers may be the best drivers, but they too could be living in a most miserable situation in a foreign land: living in  makeshift barracks they made themselves when off duty, and under the truck trailer when travelling most of the time,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Around 30 Pinoy drivers sought the help of Migrante chapter in Damman, in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia, to complain about their situation.

Upon the group’s request, Migrante officials went to their area and saw for themselves makeshift barracks beside a bungalow house with no provisions for air-conditioning or toilet.

They claimed that their employer did not provide them with accommodation for them to stay during their off duty.

The Filipino drivers are working for Al Askar H. Transportation Establishment with its main office located in Dammam.

Monterona learned that the drivers were deployed by Askar International Manpower & Services, a recruitment agency in Manila.

One of the drivers, identified as Johnny Badsegan, said their original employment contract which they signed in the Philippines was grossly violated by their employer.

Based on the original contract, the drivers should be receiving a monthly salary of 1,600 Saudi riyals.

“The Filipino drivers lamented that often their meager salary has been deducted if they commit a traffic violation or any wrong doing as a consequence discharging their duty,” Monterona said, quoting the Filipino drivers’ signed complaints.

They also complained that even their Iqamas (work permits) were confiscated for petty reasons, for example, if the trailer assigned to them encounters mechanical problem or if they failed to arrive on time at their destination.

“Their case has been properly endorsed to the attention of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) officials in Al Khobar last Friday (April 23), and a case dialogue with POLO officials took place when some of the drivers have been accompanied by Migrante officials at the International Philippine School-Al Khobar (IPSA-Khobar),” Monterona added.

He said Migrante hopes that officials from POLO would immediately act on their complaints and call the attention of their employer.

“The POLO-Eastern Region office, without further a do, should make representation in behalf of the Filipino drivers and affirmatively push their rightful demands as it is anyway stipulated on their original contract that has been grossly violated by their employer for more than a year now,” Monterona said. –abs-cbnNEWS.com

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