Foreign Ministry’s help sought to solve Filipino recruitment issue

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The Labor Ministry will approach the Foreign Affairs Ministry to sort out obstacles in recruiting Filipino domestic workers including contractual difficulties faced by Saudi recruiters in the Philippines.

Labor Ministries of the two countries had signed an agreement earlier this year to resume recruitment of the Filipino domestic workers.

Mufrej Al-Haqbani, undersecretary at the ministry, expected his foreign affairs counterpart to help resolve some of the issues.

“A meeting would be held with representatives from recruiting offices in the Kingdom in the next few days. We will listen to the problems faced by these offices and then work with the Foreign Ministry to solve them,” he said.

The main issues at the meeting would include the difficulties faced by Saudi recruiters in Manila, according to a source. Philippine recruitment offices are allowed to deal with five Saudi offices at one time, while their Saudi counterparts can only deal with one office in Manila, it said.

Earlier, the Philippine Labor Ministry stopped more than 120 Saudi recruitment offices from dealing with their Philippine counterparts without considering signed contracts between the two sides. The Saudi offices had paid more than 50 percent of the value of the contracts, which was lost as a result of the ministry’s intervention, the source said.

It said the Philippine Ministry of Labor occasionally stops labor offices from operating in the Philippines without consulting Saudi government agencies.

“In this case, the Saudi offices are suffering because the contracts are already signed and fees have been paid. Also, the Philippine labor offices demand payment of 50 percent of the value of a contract once workers are selected. If an office in the Philippines stops operating, its Saudi counterpart loses the money it paid,” said the source.

According to the National Committee for Recruitment at the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC), some private Saudi recruitment offices are dealing with agencies in the Philippines not authorized by the Saudi Embassy in that country.

This would eventually result in the Saudi offices and citizens losing their money and having their rights violated. The CSC urged offices in the Kingdom to sign contracts only with operators endorsed by Riyadh’s Embassy in Manila. All endorsed labor offices are listed on the embassy’s website.

The Labor Ministries of Saudi Arabia and the Philippines had earlier signed a framework bilateral agreement to regulate the recruitment of domestic workers. It includes clauses defining the rights of employers and employees.

The Saudi-Philippine agreement is the first of its kind between the Saudi Ministry of Labor and another labor exporting country.

The agreement complies with a Council of Ministers order for the labor minister to sign agreements to hire workers for the mutual benefit of both sides, without violating the Kingdom’s laws and traditions.

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