Saudi crackdown on illegal workers worries OFWs

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The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia has issued an advisory to all Filipinos following the crackdown on illegal workers in the Kingdom.


Foreign workers in Saudi Arabia
Foreign workers in Saudi Arabia

The advisory, dated April 2, reminded Filipinos of the existing laws against working with different sponsors, or engaging in jobs other than what is indicated in their work permits, and those without work permits.

The embassy said it received queries about the recent efforts undertaken by the government of Saudi Arabia against erring workers.

"According to reports, the campaign has resulted in arrests of some violators. The embassy in Riyadh and the Consulate General in Jeddah has sent officials to the deportation centers and will do so on a daily basis to verify any instances of violations and imprisonment due to these cases," the embassy said.

The embassy also cited amendments to Article 39 of the Saudi Labor Law which states that:

“It is not allowed for an employer to let his (foreign) worker go out and work for others. It is also not allowed for a worker to engage in work for another employer. The employer is not allowed to employ workers who are under the sponsorship of others. The Ministry of Labor shall inspect the firms and investigate the violations discovered by its inspectors, and then forward them to the Ministry of Interior to take penal actions against them".

"The employer is not allowed to let his worker engage in work for his own benefit. The worker would also not be permitted to work on his own account. The Ministry of Interior shall arrest, deport and take punitive measures against these violators who are working for their own benefit in the streets and public squares as well as against those who run away (from their sponsors).”

Also, the Council of Ministers repealed Article 233 of the same law which previously set the fine for violations of the original Art. 39.

The changes, according to the embassy, now mandate an inter-agency team led by the Ministry of Labor to carry out inspections to catch violators.

"The authorities have inspected hospitals, schools, universities, companies, accommodations and other installations to strictly implement recent amendments to the Saudi Labor Law which punish both the erring sponsor and the illegal worker," the embassy said.

The advisory urged Filipinos to obey and observe the regulations for work and residency permit of the host government.

It also advised Pinoy workers with expired iqamas to remind their employers to renew their work and residency permits.

"Violators may run the risk of imprisonment, fines and subsequent deportation and barring from entering the Kingdom in the future," it added.

Filipinos in Saudi may call the following numbers for more information:

Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah
(Regions of Makkah Al-Mukarramah, Tabuk, Al-MMadinah, Abha, Jizan, Najran)

0555-219-613
0561-956-142

In the regions of Riyadh, Hail, Qassim, Northern Border, Al-Jouf:

 054-591-7834

In the Eastern Region:

050-126-9742

Meanwhile, several Filipino workers based in Saudi Arabia used the social networking site Facebook to regularly provide information, news reports and other details of the ongoing crackdown in their areas.

The Facebook page of the Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards (PEBA) is among those who received reports of the crackdown from concerned Filipinos.

In a statement, PEBA cited a report from an OFW who said that authorities conducted raids in compounds and flats.

“Mga 400 expatriates ang nahuli majority na workers doon ay Pinoy. Siguro nasa higit 200 Pinoy ang nahuli. Pumasyal ako kaninang umaga dun yung mga kakilala ko na Pinoy wala na at dinampot sila," the OFW said.

However, it is not yet verified if there are Filipinos among those arrested by Saudi authorities.

PEBA said another Filipina health worker shared to them that a convoy of police cars loaded with passengers were seen making several trips along King Abdullah Road in Riyadh.

“PEBA’s Facebook continues to serve as an important network for OFWs to learn about the happening as shared in real time by its members. Its message box is swamped with updates, questions and clarifications from all over Saudi Arabia on the current situation,” said PEBA.

The group also urged the embassy to provide a report and update on the status of arrested OFWs.--Source: ABS-CBN News




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