[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.)
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.