The Overseas Workers’ Welfare Association (OWWA) on Tuesday said the so-called “Saudization” policy being implemented in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) will not have an adverse effect on all of the one million Filipinos working there.
In an interview with Howie Severino on GMA News TV’s News To Go on Tuesday, OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon assured the public that Filipino professionals like doctors, nurses and engineers would be spared from Saudi’s latest move to give priority to employing their nationals over foreign workers.
Dimzon said those who are most likely to suffer from the new policy called “Nitaqat” are OFWs working in the service and production sectors.
Under the Nitaqat policy, around 300 companies are classified into several categories, namely: Premiere, Excellent, Red and Yellow firms.
Only those under Red and Yellow categories are required to do away with foreign workers and hire more Saudi locals within nine to 11 months.
OFWs working in these types of companies number to around 90,000 and usually work in the service and production sectors as construction workers and waiters, among others.
“Ngayon kasi gusto nila bigyang panisn din ang demand ng nationals nila so nag-identify sila ng industries na puwedeng sila na ang gumawa ng trabaho na iyon imbes na ibang nationality,” Dimzon said.
Companies classified as premiere and excellent – which hire professionals like doctors, nurses, and engineers – on the other hand are not required to hire more locals, Dimzon added.
Last Wednesday, Saudi news site Arab News reported that Saudi Arabia may stop hiring Indonesian and Filipino domestic workers as it cited strict requirements and supposedly unfair regulatory provisions.
But Dimzon said no less than the Saudi labor ministry has assured that the new policy will not totally prevent Filipino workers from availing work opportunities in Saudi Arabia.
“Pinanghahawakan naman natin ang sinasabi ng labor minister nila na hindi naman nila isasara ang kanilang pinto sa foreign workers lalo na sa mga Filipinos,” she said.
In fact, Dimzon said the demand for Filipino workers in specific industries like seafarers continue to grow to this day.
Dimzon also allayed fears that other Middle Eastern countries might soon follow in the footsteps of Saudi in prioritizing their own people over foreigner workers.
“May naririnig akong ‘Omanization,’ Qatarization,’ at ‘Bahrainization,’ pero hindi naman mangyayari iyon kasi nakikita siguro nila ang pangagailangan nila sa OFWs,” Dimzon said.
“Maaaring dumating iyon pero it will not happen drastically. It has to be done gradually,” she added. — RSJ/VVP, GMA News