A MAJOR UNION has come out in support of the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DoLE) plan to slow the deployment of overseas workers to Saudi Arabia amid a back pay dispute, saying that it protects workers’ interests.

In a briefing Wednesday, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Vice-President Luis M. Corral said that the organization supports the move in order to protect the rights of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) in Saudi Arabia.

“That has to be done… Otherwise what will happen? Our workers will continue to be abused and they will continue to violate their rights,” Mr. Corral said.

On Tuesday, DoLE announced it will “scale down” deployment of OFWs in Saudi Arabia starting next year. This is a response the Riyadh’s inaction in settling 300 unpaid claims of OFWs employed by a contractor of government-run oil firm Saudi Aramco. This is on top of the 9,000 OFWs who also have yet to receive their unpaid salaries.

Saudi Arabia is the top destination for OFWs with 3 million total Filipino workers in the kingdom.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) will determine which industries will be affected by this deployment decrease. It will also stop processing Overseas Employment Certificates (OEC) for newly-hired OFWs going to Saudi Arabia.

TUCP Partylist Representative Raymond C. Mendoza said he will summon Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III next year when Congress resumes on Jan. 20 to elaborate on its plans to scale down worker deployments to Saudi Arabia.

TUCP said that the DoLE should improve its management of deploying workers. Mr. Corral said that any questionable provisions in contracts can be easily detected by POEA personnel if it had more manpower.

“What they have to do is there are 7,000 workers deployed daily… How many people are checking the contracts of the 7,000 workers? Only five personnel in the POEA. So DoLE should really increase the personnel component in doing this,” he said. — Gillian M. Cortez