The country’s labor department has assured the unpaid Filipino medical workers in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, that the government is pursuing conciliation efforts to address their complaints in the face of impending closure of their jobsite.
Labor Secretary Marianito Roque gave the assurance, saying the government remains firm in ensuring that assistance is extended to the 200-plus affected workers, in a release posted on the website of the Department of Labor and Employment. Some 236 workers, which include nurses and clinic staff, earlier sought assistance from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Jeddah, after their employer failed to pay them their salaries for six months and announced it will be ceasing operations. (See: Jobless in Jeddah: 200 unpaid Pinoys seek help) Their employer, Al Ansar Hospital, operates a hospital and two polyclinics. Only one polyclinic remains in operation, and is likewise set to close soon. The release said Roque has directed POLO to continue to pursue an “all-out effort to assist all affected workers in consultation with the host country."
Labor Attache to Jeddah Vicente Cabe has also been asked to fully confirm the closure of the hospital’s remaining polyclinic. Meanwhile, in a report to Roque, Cabe clarified that POLO had earlier pursued efforts to conciliate the case. “The efforts applied by the POLO are consistent with Philippine law, particularly Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant and Overseas Filipinos Act’s policies to ensure social, economic and legal services to Filipino migrant workers," the release stated, quoting Cabe. Cabe earlier told GMANews.TV that the workers’ complaints have already been forwarded to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labor and to the Office of the Governor of Jeddah for appropriate action. He added that a case against Al Ansar regarding the workers’ unpaid salaries is also pending before the Primary Commission of the Ministry of Labor. “Although conciliation, especially in a foreign land, takes effort, time, and patience to gather the parties to sit down and negotiate, our persistence to intervene and assist the OFWs are in consonance with the mission of the POLO to ensure onsite assistance, and to promote their welfare," Roque said.—JMA/JV, GMANews.TV