Saudi Arabia to institute reforms in recruitment process

Published by rudy Date posted on April 5, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is determined to institute reforms before the end of the year in the recruitment process to address the concerns of employees in the Kingdom, Vice President Jejomar Binay said yesterday.

Binay also said he was assured by Saudi Arabia Labor Minister Adel M. Fakeih of the repatriation of some 2,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who overstayed and ran away form their employers in Riyadh and Jeddah who fall under the guidelines of the latest amnesty proclamation of King Abdullah.

“We welcome the assurances given by the Labor Minister. We are optimistic that our kababayan at the Filipino Workers Resource Centers will soon be reunited with their families,” Binay said.

The delinquent Filipino workers are temporarily housed in the Workers Resource Centers in Riyadh and Jeddah.

Binay thanked King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud through Fakeih during their meeting.

There are some 1.6 million Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia.

For his part, Fakeih assured Binay that the OFWs would be repatriated without delay if they qualify for the amnesty.

Binay said that among the reforms to be instituted would be the setting up of a 24-hour hotline in which employees can report complaints to authorities.

It is also proposed that employees be allowed to keep a bank account and that employers be required to deposit their salary in the account without any delay.

Likewise considered is the provision of legal assistance to employees such as translation services in court cases.

Fakeih, according to Binay, called it an “infrastructure of justice,” which he said could be in place before the end of the year.

He said a bilateral meeting will be held in Manila on April 15 to discuss these concerns.

Aside from the Labor Minister, Binay held meetings with Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal and Trade Minister Ahmad Zainal Reza on Saturday.

Binay arrived in Riyadh from Doha on Friday, an Islamic holiday.

He had an extended dialogue with some 200 wards awaiting repatriation at the Bahay Kalinga, or workers’ resource center, run by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), and deep into the night with representatives of 219 Filipino organizations in Saudi Arabia inside the embassy compound.

Binay said he also received commitment from Saudi Arabia Trade Minister Ahmad Zainal Reza to study the prospect of the Philippines becoming part of the base of the Kingdom’s rice production program.

Reza said the OFWs “are good ambassadors…very professional, with a very high level of skills.”

“Most of us are close to Filipinos because most of our children are reared by Filipinos,” Reza said.

Reza had initial misgivings about the possibility of investing in rice production in the Philippines because of its present status as the world’s  argest importer of rice.

Binay, however, convinced him that the Philippines is committed to ending its dependency on rice imports and becoming a rice exporter within a few years. –Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star)

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