The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday downplayed the impact of Saudi Arabia’s upcoming “Saudization” labor policy on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the Kingdom’s Nitaqat labor policy will have “very minimal impact” on OFWs.
Baldoz said the Philippines is ready to deal with the impact of the Nitaqat.
Under the Nitaqat, the Saudi Ministry of Labor will classify 300,000 Saudi companies into four categories:
- excellent and green (complying companies)
- yellow and red (non-complying companies)
Each category will be required to employ a minimum number of Saudi citizens based on company size and the occupations of the company’s workers.
Baldoz said that the deadline for the completion of the classification of Saudi companies is on August 30.
Red-coded companies have until December 11 to improve their Saudization while yellow-coded companies have until March 11, 2012 to do so.
Yellow-coded companies cannot renew the work visas of foreign workers beyond six years.
Red-coded companies, on the other hand, will no longer be allowed to renew the work visas of their foreign workers.
Excellent- and green-coded companies can recruit foreign workers already in Saudi from red- and yellow-coded companies without the consent of the workers’ sponsors and even if the workers have not worked for at least two years under their sponsors.
These companies can change the profession of their foreign workers, including those restricted to Saudi nationals, except for human resource managers, liaison officers, cashiers, receptionists, and security guards.
According to Baldoz, the Nitaqat is one of the number of measures that the Saudi government is implementing “to improve the work environment, labor productivity, employment stability, justice and transparency” of Saudi Arabia.
Baldoz said the other measures she and her Saudi counterpart discussed included those on wage protection, social protection, equal pay, and e-services.
No cause for undue worry
Meanwhile, Baldoz reassured the public about the availability of jobs for OFWs in Saudi.
“I assure our workers and our people that this is no cause for undue worry … I have met with H.E. Adel Fakeih, Minister of Labor of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, at the sidelines of the recent 100th ILO Conference in Geneva, and he didn’t mention in our bilateral meeting anything about hundreds of thousands of foreign workers, including OFWs, getting displaced soon in the Saudi labor market,” she said in a news release on the DOLE website.
She added Fakeih, who requested for the bilateral meeting, was even “very emphatic and unequivocal” in saying that the Saudi labor market remains open to millions of foreign workers.
Baldoz also noted that some licensed recruitment agencies said many large companies employing Filipinos are already 80-percent compliant with the Saudization program.