abs-cbnNEWS.com Posted at 05/31/2011 5:07 PM | Updated as of 05/31/2011 5:07 PM
MANILA, Philippines – The Saudi government has announced that it will not renew the work permits of foreign workers who have spent six years or more in the country.
Migrante Middle East, a Filipino migrants’ rights group, said that an official of the Saudi labor ministry made the announcement Monday. It said the announcement did not come as a surprise.
“Months ago, the host government’s labor ministry has openly announced that it needs to seriously implement a labor plan to employ their own nationals over expatriate workers,” Migrante-Middle East’s regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said in a press statement.
The labor plan, called ‘Saudization,’ requires that Saudi-based companies, both local and foreign, ensure that Saudi nationals make up at least 10% of their total work force. But the Saudi Ministry of Labor has admitted that since its implementation 5 years ago, Saudization is a failure.
There are an estimated 1.2 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia, and about 350,000 of them will be affected if the Saudi government decides to strictly implement the work permit cap.
Monterona said that this is the right decision for a government that is facing high rate of unemployment among its own nationals – employ their own people first before expatriate workers.
According to Monterona, several migrant-receiving host governments have already implemented a work permit limit. “Saudi Arabia would be the first in the Middle East to implement a limit on the stay of foreign workers,” he added.
Monterona said that the Aquino administration should respond to the work permit cap by developing genuine agrarian reform and nationalization of basic industries.
“Saudi’s labor market for migrant workers including OFWs is shrinking, as the host government is also facing an unemployment problem… the lucrative labor export business of the government will eventually lead to bankruptcy as countries in Middle East…. are now facing unemployment problems too,” Monterona said.
“Naturally, they will favor the employment of their own nationals than Filipinos, no matter how skilled our workers are.”