The Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia on Saturday said it has sought for a meeting with labor officials there to talk about the ban on domestic helpers.
“The embassy has sought [for] a meeting with Saudi officials to confirm the parameters of this pronounced policy by the Ministry of Labor spokesperson Hattab Al Anzi,” it said in a statement.
As of July 1, the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh has not received any official notice on the matter from Saudi Arabia’s Labor and Foreign Affairs ministries. It only learned about the ban on domestic workers through the print media.
The embassy said it has been receiving questions on whether the new policy would negatively affect Filipino domestic workers already working there.
“The Philippine Embassy shall seek proper clarification on this issue from the Ministry of Labor,” it pointed out.
Last Wednesday, news site Arab News reported Saudi Arabia may stop hiring Indonesian and Filipino domestic workers as it cited strict requirements and supposedly unfair regulatory provisions.
The Ministry of Labor spokesman said it will stop the issuance of work visas starting July 2.
Similarly, the embassy said that the processing, verification, and authentication of contracts of household service workers has been suspended since March 2011.
This was after an instruction from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and pending mutual agreement on the requirements for verification and terms and conditions of the contracts.
A Philippine-Saudi joint technical committee met in Manila on April 24 to 27, with the Saudi delegation headed by Assistant Deputy Minister of Labor Hashim Rajeh.
The Philippine side agreed to waive requiring the employer’s personal appearance as well as submission of a police clearance, certificate of employment, vicinity map or sketch of the employer’s residence, and names of the members of the employer’s family.
On the other hand, the Saudi delegation agreed that Saudi employers would hire Filipino domestic helpers through licensed Saudi manpower agencies to be pre-qualified by the labor section of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah.
However, the embassy said the remaining issue to be resolved is the minimum salary. The Saudi side proposed reducing the minimum salary to $240 dollars per month but the Philippines stood pat on $400.
It said the $400 rate “was set way back in 2006 applicable to all countries hiring Filipino domestic workers.”
“The Philippine Department of Labor through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, which supervises and regulates the deployment of Filipino workers overseas, decided to maintain the monthly salary at the current level,” the embassy said.
It added that before the reported decision of the Ministry of Labor to stop issuing visas for domestic helpers from the Philippines, the embassy proposed resuming the talks to further discuss the remaining issue of the minimum salary.
“The Philippine Embassy stresses that the requirements for labor contract verification and the terms and conditions of the contract including the $400 minimum salary are not new as suggested by some news reports,” it said. — JE, GMA News