Press Release No. 124-2012
22 July 2012
The Philippine Embassy belies a report that appeared in Manila Bulletin on 20 July 2012 which claimed that 180 Filipino workers in 4 companies held a hunger strike on 19 July 2012 at the same time to protest "illegal recruitment, abusive employers and government neglect."Ambassador Ezzedin Tago explained that the story gave readers the impression that all the workers in the 4 identified companies coordinated their action and that they went on hunger strike simultaneously. “The truth is there was no hunger strike in Al Swayeh. The truth is there was no hunger strike by the Al Sabillah workers in Al-Jouf” Ambassador Tago said.
This is really the story of the 98 workers of Al-Swayeh. And illegal recruitment is not one of the complaints but non-payment of salary and end-of-service benefit, and the non-issuance of exit visas to the workers who have finished their contracts.
Labor Attache Albert Valenciano added, “there are no details of the cases of the workers in the other companies.”
The story cites Mr. Gary Martinez of Migrante International as saying that that the workers (of Al-Swayeh), "along with other maltreated migrant workers of other nationalities, held respective strikes and 'stop-work protests against their companies (underscoring supplied). They appealed to the PH embassy to help them but they were left to tend for themselves. Eventually, they ran out of food and resources."
It is only the Al-Swayeh workers of different nationalities that held 'stop-work protests' and not all the 180 workers. Embassy and POLO-Riyadh have been attending to the case of the Al-Swayeh workers.
POEA and OWWA were instructed by the Secretary of Labor to coordinate their action to facilitate the provision of the plane tickets to the concerned workers.
Earlier, Ambassador Tago wrote Prince Sattam bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud twice requesting for immediate assistance to the workers and he brought the matter to the attention of the Emir who had set up a specialized inter-agency committee to solve the issue.
On the part of POLO-Riyadh, Labor Attaché Albert Valenciano said that the workers were provided: food supplies to the workers from time to time to tide them over; medical assistance at its own expense for 21 workers with medical complaints while 10 other workers are scheduled for medical check-up on 23 July 2012. Welfare officer Leonardo Rodrigo was assigned to handle the case and to liaise with the inter-agency committee organized by the Saudi government to resolve the workers’ problems.
The Embassy is also assisting the 19 Filipinos who used to work with Al-Sabillah in Al-Jouf, and had brought their case to the Emir of Al-Jouf, the Ministries of Labor and Interior.
“To write about a story for the information of the public is one thing. But reporters should check out the facts before setting it down on paper,“ Ambassador Tago rued. END