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DOLE REPORT

Saudi Oger downsizing to last 1-2 years, affect hundreds of OFWs


Saudi Oger Ltd., one of Saudi Arabia's largest construction firms hit by the drop in oil prices, will reduce the number of its subcontractors in the coming months until its operations stabilize — a transition that is expected to last for two years and affect hundreds of OFWs.

The firm employs 7,580 OFWs, of which 431 are assigned to sub-contractors, and its management has promised Philippine labor officials that Filipino workers "will be the least affected" during the transition.

"Saudi Oger will downsize in summer and reduce the number of its sub-contractors, but operations will stabilize after this period," according to a situation report by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), which has sent a team to Saudi Arabia to probe the plight of OFWs in three beleaguered Saudi firms.

"The transition will lead to manpower reduction, especially in construction, in the next 1-2 years, although it added that Filipino workers will be the least affected," the DOLE added.

Saudi Oger management could not say exactly how many OFWs will be affected, but said it would be "less than 1,000 workers," the DOLE said in its March 14 report on the effects of oil price decrease on the employment of OFWs in the Kingdom.

The DOLE said the firm's management also gave them an outline of its plan to pay the Filipino workers whose salaries have been delayed since November last year.

Delayed salaries

Based on the plan, payment for the November 2015 salaries will be given before the end of March 2016; payment of December 2015 to January 2016 salaries will be given in April 2016; payment of February and March 2016 salaries will be given in May 2016; and by June 2016 the payment of salaries will be current.

"In the meantime, affected workers can request for financial support for their daily needs," the DOLE said.

Saudi Oger has a "no-work, no-pay" policy, "but those who stay and are willing to work, but are prevented to do so, would be paid," the DOLE said.

Saudi Oger management also stated that it will pay for all the penalties for 3,180 unrenewed iqama and resolve this problaem by April 2016.

Saudi Oger officials as well as officials of two other large Saudi Arabia firms — Mohammad Al Mojil Group (MMG) and Saudi Bin Laden Group — met with DOLE representatives who were on a five-day special mission to Saudi Arabia to assess the situation of OFWs there amid the drastic drop in oil prices.

Labor Undersecretary Ciriaco A. Lagunzad III, who headed the team, said the firms agreed to pay back wages and benefits of OFWs with delayed salaries and aid in their repatriation. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News