By Roy Mabasa
The recent order of the Department of Labor and Employment to reduce the number of job orders for household service workers (HSWs) this year will result in a deep cut in the deployment of OFWs in the Middle East, a recruitment and migration consultant said on Sunday.
In an order issued on Dec. 27, 2018 but released only last January 8, 2019, the labor department directed the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to trim both the accreditation of Foreign Recruitment Agencies (FRAs) and the number of employment contracts by 10 percent, especially in Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries where large majority of HSWs are already deployed.
According to labor consultant Emmanuel Geslani, the order may affect the deployment of some 30,000 HSWs to the Middle East by 30,000, which represents about 10 percent of the more than 300,000 HSWs deployed there annually by local recruitment agencies in collaboration with FRAs.
The DOLE order mandates the POEA to strictly monitor the operations of recruitment agencies with their solidarity obligations with deployed workers.
It also warns private agencies to comply with the ban on minors and underage workers.
Geslani further said the reduction of deployed HSWs, plus the lower forecast of OFW deployment this year, will have a devastating effect on OFW remittances aside from the loss of opportunities for OFWs in the Middle East, most particularly in Saudi Arabia.
Geslani likewise said deployment of skilled workers is expected to go down by 10-15 percent due to the unstable price of crude oil leading to a precarious financial situation of Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries.
Furthermore, he said Saudi Arabia is progressing in its implementation of “Saudization,” a policy that compels local businesses to hire Saudi nationals especially in white collar jobs.
Citing statistics, Geslani said around 3,000 workers were repatriated in 2018 when the companies of these workers either laid them off and stopped paying their salaries. It was reported that PhP100 million were paid by local agencies for the repatriation, air fare and unpaid salaries.
Geslani expressed the view that the administrative order was a “partial deployment ban” which may not sit well with Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries that are dependent on Filipino HSWs.
“The government should be ready for any retaliatory actions by Saudi Arabia which is the country’s largest labor market with over 1.5 million Filipinos in the Kingdom,” he said.