Thousands of Filipinos, Indians, Pakistanis jobless in Saudi

Saudi King has issued a decree for urgent payment of dues to workers

Thousands of Indians, Filipinos and Pakistanis are jobless in Saudi Arabia after the plunge in oil prices sparked construction layoffs, officials said Tuesday.

Some Filipinos have nothing to eat... after going unpaid for months, said Garry Martinez, chairman of the Migrante group which works for the millions of Filipino overseas workers worldwide.

India said Monday it was negotiating with Saudi authorities to repatriate thousands of its own nationals after they lost their jobs, leaving them with no money to return home.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj told parliament in New Delhi she was sending a junior minister to Riyadh after reports that around 10,000 Indian workers had been left on their own.

In Manila, Migrante coordinator Gilbert Saludo -- who returned from Saudi Arabia last month after two years working there -- said as many as 20,000 Filipinos could be affected.

Saludo said that while Manila had extended financial aid to them so far, it was not clear how long this could last.

The Philippine Labour Department said Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello had visited Saudi Arabia last month to address the problem but would not elaborate.

Pakistan said 8,520 of its nationals in Saudi Arabia had not been receiving their salaries for several months.

A foreign ministry statement said that "most of the workers want to leave these companies but only after settling their dues".

The Pakistan embassy had set up special centres and a fund to provide aid, food, medicine and shelter.

"The (Pakistani) embassy has further informed that Saudi King has issued a decree for urgent payment of dues to workers by the concerned," the office of the prime minister said.

"We stand by our hardworking workers who are away from their homeland to earn a living for their families. They are our strength and pride. We will help them out in all possible ways," Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a statement.

The Indian consulate in Jeddah has been providing free food for its nationals.



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