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5 distressed Filipino workers in Saudi arrested for filing labor complaints against erring employer

On October 17, 2010

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia -The Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS), an affiliate organization of migrant rights group Migrante-Middle East in Saudi Arabia, today said it received request for assistance from fellow co-workers of the 5 distress OFWs who were detained in Riyadh jail yesterday by their erring employer.

Eric Jocson, Chairperson of KGS-Migrante, said the 5 distress OFWs have been apprehended on Saturday afternoon at their company-provided barracks by local police after their employer has reported that they, 13 of them, staged a “stop of work” action since last week.

The five are now detained at Old Batha Police station in Riyadh.

But prior to this, the 13 distress OFWs working for Keytechnology for Furnishing Est. filed a formal complaints at the Philippine Overseas Labor office (POLO) against their employer.

“The 13 distress OFWs complained of working for more than 8 hours but have not been paid for their overtime, they were not issued protective personal equipment during work, and forcing them to finish their work or else a 2 days salary will be deducted,” Jocson said.

On 15th September, their employer came to their barracks and forced them to sign an agreement insinuating that they are staging a strike, but the 13 distress workers did not sign.

“Yesterday, at about 2:00p.m., 5 of the thirteen distress OFWs have been apprehended by police including Jerry Garingo and 4 other co-workers,” Jocson added.

KGS-Migrante case officers have already alerted the Philippine Embassy-Assistance to the Nationals section to look into this incident.

On his part, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona, said the 5 distress OFWs should be released from jail, adding that “complaining an erring employer’s labor malpractices do not constitute a violation of the Saudi labor law; it is their employer that should be put behind bars violating their own labor law,” Monterona added.

Monterona said they already talked to the concerned RP embassy officials to represent the 5 distress OFWs with the local police so that they could be released.

“We will not stop our calls to the present Aquino administration to work or ink a bilateral agreement or arrangement on the protection of OFWs with its counterpart Saudi host government and other mid-eastern governments hosting OFWs in the Gulf region,” Monterona ended.

Written by: John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator