SURIGAO CITY — Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz belied claims that 1.5 million overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia will be affected by the host country’s move to prioritize Saudi nationals in employment or the “Saudization” policy.
“Huwag po kayong maniwala na maapektahan kaagad ang ating 1.5 milyong manggagawa sa Saudi Arabia, there is no truth on that because Saudi Arabia will not be as it is now without migrant Filipino skilled workers – they need us,” Secretary Baldoz said in her speech at the 68th Caraga Regional Development Council meeting held in the city last Friday.
Baldoz claimed that her counterpart, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Labor Secretary promised her that the 1.5 million OFWS in the kingdom will not be affected because Filipino workers there are mostly highly skilled.
Baldoz said the KSA Labor Secretary told her last June in Geneva that the kingdom will continue to hire migrant workers as constructions of mega-cities that will start in 2014 needs thousands if not millions of migrant workers.
Baldoz added the reason why Saudi Arabia opted for nationalization of their workforce (Saudization) is to avoid social unrest now being experienced by some Middle East countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Bahrain.
“Kaya inunahan na po ng gobyerno ng Saudi Arabia na mag plano ng nationalization of workforce to give priority of their nationals in hiring workers,” Baldoz said.
According to her, private and big firms in Saudi Arabia are focusing more on productivity, and highly skilled workers are needed.
“Highly skilled OFWs fit in Saudi Arabia’s development goals… such as the construction of mega-cities that will start in 2014″ Baldoz said.
On the other hand, she said that if some OFWs there decide to return home, the Philippine Government is ready to help them by providing livelihood opportunities through provision of seed capital for entrepreneurship.
“That’s why I admire Surigao del Norte officials in initiating first livelihood summit to answer returning OFWs need but also local residents to start their livelihood projects that will not necessary for them to look for jobs abroad but look for local opportunities and have their skills and talents be used not by other countries” Baldoz said. — Ben Serrano/LBG, GMA News