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…
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 â€œlabor shortage” in Australia and Canada. The Philippine labor attachÃ©s in those countries are currently in talks with some officials there to â€œmatch 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.”
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