MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines, striking a blow for migrant women workers, has urged oil-rich member-countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to adopt measures that would speed up the repatriation of women workers during crises, particularly household service workers (HSWs) who are most vulnerable to physical and sexual abuses.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz raised the matter on Tuesday at the opening of the two-day Abu Dhabi Dialogue-II (ADD-II) that gathers labor-sending countries like the Philippines, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia and labor-receiving countries belonging to the GCC.
She said most of the Arab countries want to exclude female HSWs from the sector who will benefit from labor and migration policies to be adopted in the two-day forum.
“GCC countries want to exclude women [in the sector who will benefit from policy development] but we believe that woman HSWs are the most vulnerable, that’s why we want them to be included in the program,” Baldoz added in an interview at the sidelines of the ADD-II meeting being held at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City.
Of the more than 9 million Filipino migrant workers, some 90,000 to 100,000 are female HSWs employed mostly in Arab countries.
Baldoz said delegates are expected to adopt the Regional Collaboration Framework of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, where the Philippines will push for measures that will facilitate ease of repatriation of Filipino workers in Arab countries during conflict and crisis situations.
The labor chief said the Philippines continues to face difficulties in repatriating distressed Filipino workers amid the lingering Arab spring of revolutions that spread across Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Syria due to their existing policies of requiring payment to both employers and respective governments before allowing Filipino HSWs to leave those countries.
Resistance of employers to cooperate with the Philippine government in repatriation efforts also poses problems for the government during the Arab crisis.
“It is important for us to facilitate effectively our OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] during crisis and we need agreements [with these GCC countries] so that we will be operating in black and white and there is a continuity and sustainability of the process,” Baldoz said.
The Abu Dhabi Dialogue II is a dialogue of 11 sending countries that include the Philippines, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam and GCC member-countries of migrant worker destination like Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Malaysia and Singapore sit as observers.