Filipino domestic workers ask ‘Is Saudi ban already lifted?’

VACATIONING overseas household service workers (HSWs) from Saudi Arabia and aspiring HSWs are asking if the Saudi ban on the deployment of Filipino HSWs had already been lifted, according to Filipino migrants’ rights group in the Middle East.

Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said they’re receiving queries from vacationing and aspiring HSWs if the ban on deployment of HSWs to Saudi Arabia had already been lifted.

“There is a confusion because according to the vacationing HSWs and applicants, their recruitment agencies were saying the ban had been lifted, but the POEA is saying otherwise,” Monterona citing the HSWs who have inquired with him through email and Facebook.

Margie R., who has a pending application as HSW, told Monterona that per the recruitment agency where she is applying, the ban was already lifted. “When we went to POEA and asked its officials, we got different replies, thus we were confused”, said Margie.

Another OFW, Linda S., who have been working as HSW for four years in Saudi Arabia told Monterona that she could not come home though her employer had allowed going and celebrating the Yuletide season with her family and relatives in the Philippines.

“Dapat daw may bagong contract ako na nagsasabi ng US$400 ang sweldo ko na pirmado ko, nang employer, at ng local recruitment agency sa Pilipinas at counter-part foreign recruitment agency nito (It’s required to have a new contract stipulating that a US$400 salary signed by me, my employer, and a local recruitment agency and its foreign recruitment agency)”, Linda said on her email to M-ME’s Monterona.

On September 24, 2012 during the celebration of Saudi’s National Day, Saudi’s Ambassador to the Philippines announced that the Saudi and Philippine governments had already reached an agreement to resume the deployment of household service workers (HSWs) to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi’s ban on the deployment of Filipino HSWs was imposed last year after Saudi govt. received complaints from Saudi employers of the additional requirements such as the imposition of US$400 monthly salary, full address and sketch of a prospective employer, among others, by the PH govt. through its labor offices approving job orders for HSWs.

On October 4, 2012, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) issued Memorandum Circular No. 08, Series of 2012 outlining the ‘New Guidelines on the POLO accreditation and POEA Regulation of Saudi Recruitment Agencies (SRA) Hiring Filipino HSWs Bound for Saudi Arabia’.

POEA also announced that all HSWs, vacationing and those who are awaiting deployment, will be covered by a ‘New Standard Employment Contract (SEC).

“We came to know that the processing of SEC had been suspended by the POEA, and due to this suspension, POLO offices in Saudi Arabia refused to process the Balik-Mangagawa clearances or OECs of vacationing HSWs,” Monterona said.

Citing POEA records, Monterona said there were at least 12,000 Filipino HSWs deployed in 2010.

“There are at least 12,000 HSWs who want to come home after completion of their contract; but there could be more maybe around 30,000 OFWs in Saudi Arabia who can’t come home because of the suspension of the HSWs standard employment contract by the POEA,” Monterona averred.

“The Philippine government as a labor exporting country that rely heavily on OFWs remittances, through the DoLE and POEA, is really pressing for the lifting of the Saudi ban on HSWs while hypocritically announcing to the public that in 5-year time it will stop sending HSWs is at a dilemma amid the numerous cases of abuses and labor rights violations,” Monterona noted adding that the Phl govt. should intensify its efforts to engage OFW-receiving governments to adhere on international labor standards and sign or ratify international instruments by passing laws and social legislations that recognizes migrant rights and welfare.

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