JEDDAH - Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople announced the resumption of the deployment of Filipino workers to the Kingdom of Arabia starting November 7, 2022 after she and her delegation met last week with Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) Minister Ahmad Bin Sulaiman Al-Rajhi and other Saudi authorities.
After talks and discussions between the Philippine delegation and its Saudi counterpart, they issued and signed a joint statement in Jeddah and Riyadh, KSA as the two countries agreed to undertake joint measures to facilitate the decent and productive employment of OFWs and ensure the protection of their rights.
Ople stressed on the importance of this agreement as it reassures the good relationship of the two countries in terms of labor force. It will benefit the Filipino Workers wishes to work in the Kingdom.
“We are grateful to Minister Al-Rajhi and the government of Saudi Arabia for sharing our concern for the rights of our workers. Likewise, we intend to move forward by working together on implementing mechanisms that would ensure the protection of our workers’ rights and welfare,” stated Ople.
She added that they followed the president's directive to work as a team and for the DFA and DMW to speak with one voice.
Ople highlighted the commitment of the two counties for a joint partnership against the trafficking of migrant workers, which is another priority of the Marcos administration.
In their joint statement, both countries expressed appreciation for the significant contributions of Filipino workers to the Saudi economy, and mutual regard for a rights-based approach to labor migration as envisioned by the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).
“The DMW recognizes the labor reform initiatives of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to further enhance protection of migrant workers consistent with fundamental and technical ILO Conventions it has ratified and the UN Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,” the statement said.
Both countries reached a consensus to undertake the following:
• Constitute a Technical Working Group composed of representatives from both parties to monitor the implementation of labor reforms and jointly resolve concerns of workers;
• Implement a Blacklist and a Whitelist of Saudi Recruitment Agencies (SRAs) and employers;
• Revise the Standard Employment Contract of OFWs to reflect all guarantees under the Saudi Labor Reform Initiatives including insurance for unpaid wages, timely release of salaries through electronic payments, and a pre-termination clause;
• Convene regular Joint Committee Meetings to ensure full compliance with the above agreements and address challenges in the implementation of these labor reforms; and
• Sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on combating trafficking in persons, investigating, and prosecuting offenders, and providing support to OFW victims of trafficking in persons.
The Saudi Labor Ministry also committed to review a proposal from the DMW to reduce the duration of the employment contract of domestic workers to one year.
In her remarks during the start of the bilateral discussions, Ople outlined the historic ties between the two countries.
“During those pioneering days of overseas employment, you needed, and we provided the best skilled workers to build cities and structures where there was none. Today, we are here once again to help, as Saudi Arabia pursues its Vision 2030, where you have started to build new cities in pursuit of global competitiveness in various fields,” she pointed out.
Ople informed that the bilateral talks will resume in December with the convening of a Joint Committee Meeting to be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The agenda for the JCM will include the review of wages for domestic workers and KSA's response to the Philippines's proposal for a shorter contract (from 2 years to 1 year subject to renewal with the written consent of both employer and worker).
“In the end, our shared goal must be to present to the world a unique and enduring partnership that will serve as the gold standard in how labor migration governance must and can be done,” stated Ople.
DMW Delegation / Philippine Embassy Riyadh / PCG Jeddah