OFWs to Aquino: Time to re-think labor export policy; Saudi freeze-hiring of Pinoy domestics a multiple disaster for PH gov’t

Global alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) Migrante International today warned the Aquino government that Saudi Arabia’s recent freeze-hiring of domestic workers is a “multiple disaster” that should compel it to re-think its labor export policy.

According to Garry Martinez, the freeze-hiring of Filipino domestic workers will present a multitude of problems that the government is not be prepared for.

“Firstly, we are expecting the displacement of 200,000 domestic workers (from Saudi) initially, and eventually the Saudization policy can be expected to displace the rest of the 1.8 million OFWs there. What is the government’s concrete program to absorb this very big labor force?” he said.

There are currently 1.8 million OFWs in Saudi. The Philippine is the fourth largest migrant population in Saudi, behind Pakistan, India and Egypt.

He added that the freeze-hiring will also make more OFWs vulnerable to illegal recruitment, human trafficking and human and labor rights abuses and will result in an increase in the number of undocumented migrants.

“Because no jobs and decent wages are available here, we can expect an increase of desperate OFWs going to Saudi through illegal means, unmindful of low wages or inhumane conditions. Ngayon pa lang hindi na sila maprotektahan ng gobyerno, paano pa kung mas maraming dumagsa sa panahon ng freeze-hiring?”

Lastly, Martinez said that it is “most problematic” that the government’s resolution to the displacement of OFWs and freeze-hiring is to scout for other labor markets for them abroad.

“Ultimately, Saudi’s freeze-hiring is a result of the present global economic crisis compelling host countries to restrict and constrict their labor markets when their own nationals are up in arms due to unemployment, lack of decent wages and social services. Apart from Saudi, we are also experiencing the displacement and retrenchment of OFWs in Europe, the US and elsewhere around the globe.”

Bangkarote na ang labor export policy dahil sa matinding pandaigdigang krisis,” he said.

Martinez called on the Aquino administration to decisively deviate from its labor export policy and instead focus on creating decent and sustainable jobs to end the cycle of forced migration. ###