250,000 OFW Jobs Might Be Lost in Saudi

[smartads]250,000 to 300,000 Filipino domestic workers may be out of a job in the near future. A Saudi Arabia ban on the hiring of OFW domestics from the Philippines started this past Saturday. The Inquirer Global Nation online reports that  Emmanuel Geslani, a consultant for several Manila-based recruitment agencies, said between 250,000 and 300,000 Filipino domestics currently in Saudi Arabia may no longer be rehired after negotiations between Saudi and the Aquino government on a proposed $400 monthly minimum wage broke down. Riyadh also objects to a requirement of the country’s new Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of a certification from the Philippine embassy that domestic workers’ rights are protected. (photo by mattroyal from Flickr.)OFW

Geslani dismissed Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda’s statement that there were other countries who may accept Filipino domestics displaced from Saudi Arabia.

“It’s another figment of the imagination of the Aquino administration, which failed to anticipate the serious repercussions of the hard-ball stance of the labor department and the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency during negotiations for deployment terms,” he said.

In separate interview with reporters, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon said the government would be intensifying its “Balik-Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay!” project to “transform the domestics into entrepreneurs.” This project has created 30 jobs during its launch this past May. That's right. 30 jobs out of thousands of OFWs returning to the Philippines.

According to Baldoz, the government will present displaced Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) with a “ready-to-go roll-out self-employment package of services, consisting of short-gestation training, start-up kits, business counseling, and technical and marketing assistance” for such services as massage, cosmetology and production of soap and slippers, among others. They could borrow a maximum of P10,000 (231 US Dollars) from the National Reintegration Program for OFWs, she said.

The Inquirer article notes that some Filipino maids report good to tolerable working conditions in the Middle East. That wasn't the case for my sister-in-law Marjorie who had to flee the country after being falsely accused of attacking the lady of the household.  But there are also many stories of domestic slavery coming out of Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region. Many domestics are reportedly made to work seven days a week with little food or rest. Some are locked up in rooms and not allowed to go out. They are forced to work for years until their contracts expire. Some have complained of physical and sexual abuse.

Philippine government personnel have been criticized by migrant organizations for failing to do enough to protect overseas Filipinos from domestic slavery. A militant overseas Filipino worker advocacy group recently gave President Benigno Aquino III a failing grade in his first year in the presidency.

8 comments

  1. Honestly, its hard to criticize President Noynoy for his hardball stance on the overseas migrant workers situation in Saudi Arabia. While it generates jobs for thousands of filipino workers, there are many also that come home with harrowing experiences of sexual and physical abuse to which the Saudi government has not been made accountable for.

    What should he really do? Its easy to say generate jobs in the Philippines, when there are so many other factors interplaying on how even that doesn’t work yet on the short-term. Ultimately it may be one where individual sacrifices have to be made for long-term solutions.

    1. I don’t think the President should be criticized either, Claudette. But there’s no way the Saudis were going to double the standard salary for the domestic workers from 200 USD to 400 USD. That’s what my sister-in-law earned as a domestic helper in Saudi, also. I completely agree that the Philippine government should try to enforce better working conditions for the OFWS. I completely support that.

  2. Trying to look on the bright side, overseas jobs have provided an escape valve for high unemployment in the Philippines that allowed Filipino politicians to avoid dealing with the situation. With 250,000 to 300,000 Filipino domestic workers being out of a job in the near future plus the employment of skilled OFW being reduced under Saudi’s new Nitaqat law, Philippines unemployment will get even higher and Filipino politicians may have no choice but to finally start making necessary changes to the economy and corruption.

    Also, a lot of Filipinos would be better off working for themselves in the Philippines rather than slaving away in Saudi Arabia for $200 a month.

    1. I think the loss of jobs will account for a loss of remittances being sent to the Philippines, Lance, but I agree that the workers would be better off if they could stay in the Philippines. Maybe some more expats like Monty Man could create jobs for their Filipino relatives. Frankly, I’m not looking to the Philippine government to do much to help the OFW plight than just provide “lip service.”

      1. I have seriously considered coming there to start a business that would create jobs. I know some have talked about this page and other blogs. I like the idea. Would love to go over there and open a full service marina or something.

        1. Hope you get a accommodating mayor like Monty got, John, that will issue any permits later. Lots of red tape in our area, might be too, that our town is also the provincial capitol. Monty has really lit a fire with the businesses he has created. He’s really given a lot of us, myself included, some great ideas.

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