PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN

IMPROVING overseas workers’ employment contracts is on the table at the first meeting of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) government sector on Oct. 27, which as Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III will chair. 

At a televised briefing Thursday, Mr. Bello said the work on contracts will focus on job security and safety and strengthen protections to ensure receipt of salaries and benefits.

The group will also discuss the democratization of the ILO process by extending voting authority to all ILO delegates.

At present, out of the 187 member states of the ILO, only 28 have voting and speaking rights, another 28 have only speaking rights, and the rest “are mere observers with neither voting (nor) speaking rights, including the Philippines,” Mr. Bello said in a statement in August.

Mr. Bello assumed the chairmanship in July.

Before the ILO meets, Mr. Bello will attend a ministerial meeting on Oct. 25 to 27 in Dubai, during which he will meet with the Saudi Minister of Labor to discuss payments delayed since 2016 for about 9,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia. 

The OFWs had been repatriated, but salaries worth around P4.6 billion have not yet been paid by their employers.

“It’s high time we show the people of Saudi that our people deserve justice,” Mr. Bello said.

Last month, Mr. Bello also considered suspending the deployment of OFWs to the Saudi Arabia to pressure its government to intervene in the repatriation of two workers allegedly abused by a retired Saudi general. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago