Clear claimants’ list, DMW asked

We expect the DMW to go a step beyond their recent statements to workers, urging them to register.

The Department of Migrant Workers has been urged to clarify the actual number of overseas Filipino workers previously employed by Saudi Oger Ltd. who are still awaiting their long-overdue salaries since their displacement due to the company’s financial woes in 2015.

Atty. Roy Señeres Jr., legal adviser for the group of OFW claimants from Saudi Oger, told Daily Tribune on Friday that there has been a difference between their own list of claimants, consisting of around 9,000 OFWs, and the database from the company which he said has around 4,000 claimants.

“Based on reports over the past years, the number [of Saudi Oger claimants] is around 9,000, based on the list created by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in the (Duterte) administration.

OWWA secured this list when they provided financial assistance to Saudi Oger claimants who are awaiting for their unpaid wages,” Señeres explained.

An archived Department of Labor and Employment report said that there are 8,757 OFWs employed by Saudi Oger Ltd., including 1,407 and 1,667 in its construction and maintenance divisions respectively.

Señeres said that Saudi Oger should have had their own list of former employees with pending claims from the company.

“We expect the DMW to go a step beyond their recent statements to workers, urging them to register. In a bigger scale, can’t the DMW point out the display of unprofessionalism of the Saudi Oger liquidation board, that they have to reset the registration anew, when they should have the database of workers to begin with?” Señeres said.

In response, DMW Undersecretary Patricia Yvonne Caunan clarified to Daily Tribune that Saudi Oger was the one reaching out to the agency, through the Embassy of Saudi Arabia, to update such information from their claimants, and does not signify any formal talks with the KSA as of now.

“What happened is that the lawyer from Saudi Oger wants to update the records from the company. They needed our help to disseminate the link because they don’t know if the worker still lives in the same location or still has the same contact number, because we’re talking about a database from seven years ago,” Caunan said.

Caunan pointed out that the final list of claimants is yet to be finalized once the talks between the Philippines and their counterparts in Saudi Arabia have been conducted. She said that they are still awaiting an invitation from the said country, since their request last December.

She explained that, with regard to requests for updates from other closed Saudi Arabia construction firms such as the Mohammad Al-Mojil Group or MMG and the Saudi Bin Ladin Group, the current situation with Saudi Oger has been an internal effort on the part of the company.

“I know that there are claimants from Saudi MMG and Bin Laden Group who are asking, ‘why is it that the DMW is only asking this set of people?’ Let’s say we have been approached by the Bin Laden Group and they have announcements for their former employees, we will be announcing that,”

Señeres proposed that similar measures currently applying to Saudi Oger claimants should also be applied to claimants from other firms.

“If the Saudi Oger made a gesture to open a website for the registration process, the DMW should also respond the same to MMG and Bin Laden so that the affected workers could register. After all, this is all in unison with the pronouncement or order of the commercial court of Saudi Arabia in saying that, based on obligations that they need to satisfy, workers should come first,” he explained.

Another extension

DMW, upon request from the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia last 12 January, instructed Saudi Oger claimants to register and update their data through a certain webpage that they could access. Originally set to end on 19 January, it was extended until 31 January.

Señeres told Daily Tribune that there are still claimants, including widows and family members of deceased Filipino migrant workers from Saudi Oger, who haven’t been able to register or confirm their registration online.

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