Saudi Arabia to implement labor policy reforms for foreign workers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 5, 2020   •   623

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) on Wednesday (November 4) announced that beginning March 2021, it will implement labor policy reforms for foreign workers.

Under the reformed policy, Saudi Arabia will allow migrant workers to change jobs and leave the country without the employer’s permission.

According to the KSA Government, they aim to improve work efficiency and improve the country’s labor market attractiveness.

Around 10 million migrant workers stand to benefit from this reform, including overseas Filipino workers (OFW). AAC

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Over 500K OFWs repatriated amid COVID-19 pandemic – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – More than half a million overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who were displaced by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have been repatriated by the government, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.

Citing a report from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) head Hans Leo Cacdac, DOLE said 502,581 Filipino repatriates have been safely transported back to their home provinces after undergoing COVID-19 tests and quarantine protocols in various hotels.

The latest batch of repatriates consisted of 1,471 OFWs who were sent home on Saturday, DOLE said.

Meanwhile, a separate report from DOLE’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) showed there are 645,071 OFWs affected by the pandemic.

Of this number, 627,576 were displaced by the public health crisis. Around 49,698 of them requested repatriation while 75,297 opted to stay on site.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III assured that the government continues to provide assistance to displaced and affected Filipino workers.

So far, DOLE’s Abot Kamay sa Pagtulong (AKAP) assistance program has extended P5.043 billion to 497,122 OFWs.

 

AKAP is one-time cash assistance of $200 or P10,000 for each qualified affected/displaced OFW.

Aside from AKAP, DOLE also provides financial aid, food and medical aid to COVID infected OFWs.

To date, it has extended a total of $1.93 million in cash assistance to 9,667 OFW COVID patients. Another $2.6 million in medical and food aid has been extended to 124,945 OFWs, DOLE said.

Villanueva calls for review of deployment protocols to curb OFW abuses

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — In order to curb cases of abused Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), Senator Joel Villanueva has proposed the review of protocols on the deployment of workers.

Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, urged the government to continue to engage host countries through bilateral agreements to ensure accountability on the welfare of OFWs. This is for host countries to be accountable for the welfare of OFWs.

“Our Minority Leader made a very clear point: ‘A source of law is culture and no form of bilateral agreement and Philippine domestic law can address that culture, like the Kafala,'” he said on Monday (March 8).

Under the kafala system, a practice observed in Gulf states, the immigration status of migrant workers is legally bound to an employer who acts as the sponsor. This requires workers to obtain consent from employers to enter and exit the country, and even transferring jobs.

The International Labor Organization described the system as the state’s “delegation of responsibility … to the private employer to oversee both a migrant worker’s immigration and employment status.”

Based on the data of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, it showed that 4,302 cases of maltreatment and mistreatment were recorded in the Middle East in 2020, while contract violations surged to 21,127 cases in the same region.

The Senator also emphasized the need to protect women, especially when most countries they are being deployed to are “patriarchal in nature”. Villanueva cited government data that showed at least 56 percent, or 1.2 million, of Filipinos eking out a living in foreign countries are women.

“It is important that though OFW issues should be genderless, a large part of the bill must place protections for our OFWs particularly our women because most countries they are deployed to are patriarchal by nature, and by culture,” he said. -AAC

Over 350k overseas Filipinos repatriated since Feb. 2020—DFA

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Over 350,000 overseas Filipinos (OFs) have been repatriated since February 2020, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The DFA reported it has repatriated 4,549 OFs in the last week of January 2021, reaching a total of 356,126 OFs since the department began its repatriation program in February of last year.

Among the recently repatriated are undocumented OFs from Vietnam, Australia, Japan, Jordan and China. There were also three distressed OFs from Indonesia and one OF with a medical condition.

“Out of the total number we brought home this week, 692 were seafarers while 3,857 were land-based OFWs,” the DFA said.

The DFA also reiterated that it continues to coordinate with Philippine government agencies, airlines, and other private companies on the repatriation program for overseas Filipinos. AAC

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