OFWs to lose jobs in Saudi, recruiters warn

Published by rudy Date posted on May 23, 2011

MANILA, Philippines –  Recruitment industry leaders warned the government yesterday that many Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia might lose their jobs as a consequence of the continuing disagreement over the rules on hiring of Filipino domestic helpers, also called household service workers (HSWs).

Local recruiters said the country faces “serious repercussions” if the Philippine government refuses to accept the Saudi officials’ appeal to lower the minimum wage of HSWs from the current $400 being demanded by the Philippines to $200.

“The uncompromising stand of the Philippine panel in recent negotiations with a Saudi representative would result to massive job losses not only in the HSW sector but also the deployment of skilled and professional workers to the kingdom,” recruitment leaders said.

They said that Saudi Arabia is the largest employer of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and the Filipinos could eventually lose the market once Arab employers decide to stop hiring OFWs.

“The problem is not that simple as the Philippine government would like to think,” recruiters pointed out.

“Saudi employers who have long standing relationships with Filipino recruitment agencies could be pressured by their government to stop hiring Filipinos or not renew existing contracts of OFWs even though our workers may be considered as among the highest paid non-Caucasian workers in that country,” they added.

Last March, Saudi employers announced that they suspended the processing of new contracts to protest the stringent measures, including the $400 minimum monthly salary, demanded by the Philippine government on deployment of domestic helpers.

The Saudi government likewise restricted the Philippines from undertaking the mandatory verification of employment contracts for HSWs.

The suspension prompted the Philippine government to stop the deployment of newly hired housemaids to the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia sent a team here to discuss the disagreement, but the negotiations failed because the Philippines rejected the Saudi officials’ request to lower the minimum wage of HSWs from $400 to $200.

Recruiters expressed suspicion that the Philippine refusal to lower the minimum wage is part of government efforts to implement a selective deployment ban on domestic workers to Saudi Arabia and other countries that are not able to provide protection for Filipino workers, particularly HSWs.

Recruiters said once the government imposes a ban on domestic workers, Saudi Arabia could also stop hiring of even highly skilled Filipino workers.

“This would only lead to further rise in unemployment,” they said.

Unless the government moves to resolve the disagreement on the issue of HSWs, the Philippines should already prepare for a large reduction in deployment of workers to Saudi. –Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star)

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