Manila: Philippine government officials on Friday welcomed Saudi Arabia’s decision to lift a year-old ban on accepting Filipino household workers (HSW).
In separate statements, Vice-President Jejomar Binay - concurrent adviser on overseas Filipino workers concerns - and Labour Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, said they welcome the kingdom’s decision to do away with the ban that has affected tens of thousands of Filipino domestics.
“I warmly welcome the decision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to lift its ban on the deployment of Filipino domestic workers,” Binay said in a statement.
The Saudi Arabian government had imposed the ban in March 2011 on accepting new hire HSWs amid disagreements with the Philippine government over a law which prescribes a $400 minimum salary for domestic workers that are sent abroad. Manila had also demanded increased protection for its HSWs.
Philippine and Saudi Arabian officials held negotiations concerning the minimum salary restriction and better protection for the overseas workers.
Talking of the breakthrough, Binay said: “But more than the lifting of the ban, I find the decision of the Saudi government to increase the mandated salary for our household service workers further proof of a shared commitment to protect the welfare of Filipino migrant workers in the Kingdom. I am confident that such protection will be further enhanced.”
For her part, Dimapilis-Baldoz said she is optimistic Filipino HSWs who will work in Saudi Arabia will be protected after the Philippines and Saudi Arabia agreed to a new Standard Employment Contract (SEC) that contains stronger guarantees for the welfare and protection for HSWs.
“This will pave the way for the resumption of the deployment of HSWs to the kingdom, but with the new SEC both parties have hammered out and agreed upon, in addition to the strengthened policies and measures through DOLE (Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) and its agencies” the Secretary said.
The agencies being referred to include the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, Philippine Overseas Labour Office, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Embassy in Manila had recently announced the agreement for the resumption of the HSW contract verification and authentication which had been suspended since March 2011. Since the Saudi government disallowed contract verification and authentication, the Philippines had been compelled to cease contract processing of new hires HSWs.
Immediately after the suspension, officials of the two countries convened the KSA-Philippines Joint Technical Committee which conducted meetings, discussions, and negotiations that led to the forging of the current agreement.