SAUDI ARABIA Manila lifts ban on emigration to Saudi Arabia

Job applications on Saudi land were blocked for a year after abuses suffered by foreign workers. Under the agreement, mechanisms have been established to control and combat human trafficking. Remittances from Filipinos around the world equal 9% of GDP.

Manila () – The Philippines has lifted the ban on emigrating to Saudi Arabia for work reasons. The two countries “have reached an agreement to resume the departure of Filipino workers as of November 7, 2022,” says the joint statement released on September 13. The ban was in place about a year after Manila stopped processing overseas job applications due to abuses suffered by Filipinos in the Gulf.

The announcement was made by Susan Ople, head of the Department of Migrant Workers of the Philippines, who in the last few months He traveled to Riyadh to negotiate better working and salary conditions for his compatriots.

According to 2019 data, Saudi Arabia is the favorite destination of Filipino migrant workers: before the pandemic, there were more than one million in the Saudi Kingdom, which dropped to just over 470,000 in 2020. The year of the pandemic was they repatriated 400,000 Filipinos from around the world and a 60% drop in departures was recorded. That year, however, remittances from Saudi Arabia were $1.8 billion out of a total of $29.9 billion, which later increased to $31.4 billion in 2021. After China and India, the Philippines is the largest recipient of remittances in Asia, representing 9% of the country’s GDP.

Most of the workers are employed in the construction sector or, in the case of women, as nurses and domestic workers.

The Philippines stopped granting visas for Saudi Arabia in November 2021 because construction companies they did not pay billions of dollars in salarysa 9,000 Filipino workers. In reality there are countless abuses against foreigners in the Gulf monarchies: Philippine and international media have often told stories of mistreatment, sexual abuse, unpaid wages or even forms of modern day slavery. In 2015, Edelyn Astudillo, a Filipina domestic worker and mother of three children disappeared; despite years of investigation, her family never heard from her again.

This is because industrial relations in Saudi Arabia remain governed by the “kafala”the system by which the legal status of the worker is linked to that of the employer, who can also withdraw the passport and control all the movements of his employee.

The main points of the new agreement between Manila and Riyadh include the creation of a technical working group to monitor the implementation of the reforms, the drawing up of “black” and “white” lists of employers based on criteria agreed by labor agencies of both countries, and the signing of a memorandum of understanding to combat human trafficking. The hiring and payment process will be automated, while employment contracts could be reduced to one year with 15 days of vacation, explained Ople, who today returned to Manila along with a hundred Filipino workers who were housed in reception centers. for having problems at work.

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Written by Editor TLN

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