PH to ask Saudis to take domestic workers back

Published by rudy Date posted on April 27, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines will formally ask Saudi Arabia to lift its suspension of the deployment of Filipino domestic workers to the kingdom in talks that begin Wednesday in Manila, a ranking labor official said Tuesday.

Carlos Cao Jr., Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief, said Filipino labor officials and a Saudi delegation will hold “marathon” meetings every day until Friday to iron out the kinks in the two countries’ labor relations, particularly on the thorny issue of Filipino maids.

“We will push through with our marathon meetings, which will be held for three consecutive days. This is an indication of the resolve of both parties to thresh out all the issues as soon as possible,” said Cao in an interview.

“For sure, that (issue of Filipino maids) will be among the major items on the table,” he added.

The Saudis virtually banned the deployment of Filipino maids to their oil-rich country last month when they told Filipino labor officials to stop verifying new contracts for maids.

Cao said the Saudis complained about some provisions of the “reform package” the Philippines instituted in its household service workers (HSW) policy in 2006. The reforms included setting a minimum monthly salary of $400 for Filipino maids.

He said Saudi employers also complained about the requirement that they reveal their annual income and provide an exact address.

“I think all these will be covered. On our part, the Philippine government will try to improve the welfare and protection of our workers,” he said.

Earlier, Cao said the Saudis should be “open-minded” about the reform package for Filipino HSWs.

“We’re hoping they will be open-minded. We will insist on the reform package and maybe we can also better the terms for our HSWs. We’ll try that,” he said.

“These requirements were set with the safety of our workers in mind. We’ll see if we can still improve them,” he added. –Philip Tubeza, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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