Saudi Arabia shuts its doors to Filipino domestics

What exactly needs to be “clarified” between the governments of Saudi Arabia and the Philippines in the aftermath of a shutdown on any further granting of work permits to Filipino domestic workers? The announcement was reportedly made after a failure “to agree on hiring conditions imposed” by the Philippines. The stakes, as far as Filipinos are concerned, are high…

Some 1.3 million Filipinos work in Saudi Arabia, a key market for the nine million-strong overseas-based Filipino workforce. Between 120,000 and 150,000 are employed as domestic workers, said the Saudi-based overseas Filipino workers (OFW) group Migrante-Middle East.

The Arab kingdom and the East Asian “democracy” have in the past “clashed” over working conditions in the desert state. The Philippines recently asked for a $400 “minimum wage” equivalent for its workers there which was met with what turned out to be a take-it-or-leave-it counter-offer of $210 from the Saudis. How a beggared country would presume to “clash” with one of its biggest employers is an interesting notion, but there it is and here are the unsurprising results

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Albert Q. Valenciano, labor attache at the Philippine Embassy, said the embassy had earlier requested the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs to hold a joint meeting to negotiate the issues affecting relations in the manpower sector. But, the Kingdom imposed the ban, he added.

While Indonesia, the other country affected by the ban, had earlier imposed a “moratorium” on deployment of its citizens to Saudi Arabia effective the 1st of August, the Philippine government was, as usual, taken by surprise by things going on around it…

On the other hand, senior Philippine officials were a bit surprised by the Saudi decision to halt work permits for Filipino domestic workers.

And like most Filipino-style solutions, the national response to yet another setback in the country’s prospects for employing its tens of millions of idled citizens is typical:

Go overseas and beg some more.

Now Manila is trying to locate job opportunities in other countries, mainly in Australia and Canada, said an official in Manila on Thursday. Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said that the government is now exploring to take advantage of the “labor shortage” in Australia and Canada. The Philippine labor attachés in those countries are currently in talks with some officials there to “match the labor demand with labor supply,” she said.

So much for a development strategy. It is one that does not seem to involve a value proposition that goes beyond chasing countries with labour shortages and meeting campaign promises to “create jobs.”

6 Replies to “Saudi Arabia shuts its doors to Filipino domestics”

  1. The OFW conditions seem steeped with tragedy to me. (a) Tragic that families have to split up because there are not enough jobs (and too many people) at home. (b) Tragic that many workers enter a powerless world of abuse with no one to defend them. (c) Tragic that countries such as Saudi Arabia will jerk a whole innocent population around with no regard for the harm done, without following through on negotiations until a mutually agreed “no deal” date. And tragic that no one in government seems able to grasp the reasons for (a) and do something about it.

    1. it wouldn’t have been that tragic if the supposed labor shortages elsewhere were tapped earlier, you know? like a dig your well before you’re thirsty kinda gig?

      “tuwid na daan” = feels good to be myopic

  2. Sending your ass to Arabia is in most ways counterproductive. You can earn some cash if you’re lucky, but then again the consequences may over-weigh the benefits, or even worse.

    1. Fuck Saudi! Yes you can earn money there but just about every Filipino I know who’s worked there HATES that country – doesn’t help matters that a sizable chunk of the people there have attitude problems! There are many, many places that are better to work in than that place, I’m telling you so no need to mourn about Saudi shutting its doors to Filipino workers!

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