30 April 2010
Citing a recent data released by Saudi’s Ministry of Labor, a Filipino migrant rights group based in the oil-rich Kingdom said it only proved that the employment prospect for OFWs and for migrant workers of other nationalities is getting gloomy amid a significant drop of work visa issuances by the Saudi government.
John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional director, citing data from Saudi’s Ministry of Labor through its adjunct agency, the General Administration for Labor Statistics, said the total number of work visas for the government and private sectors have dropped by 14.9% in 2009 compared to 2008.
Monterona citing the same reports said for instance in the private sector establishments (where many of the almost 1.3-M OFWs in Saudi Arabia have been employed) the number of work visas issued in 2009 totaled to 982,420, while 1,241,960 in 2008, that shows a 20.9% decreased.
“This is a significant drop; lesser number of work visa issuances to private sector means less employment hiring available for OFWs who are competing cheap human labor from other migrant-sending countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Nepal,” Monterona added.
Monterona, said although Saudi Arabia has not been hit by the financial economic crisis last year, but the Saudi government’s Ministry of Labor is now strictly implementing a policy of less recruitment of foreign workers to give more emphasis on hiring its own local labor force in line with its “Saudization” policy.
“This is contrary to what DoLE Secretary Marianito Roque said on the day (April 27) he arrived from Qatar after meeting Philippine labor attaches in the Middle East that employment prospects for OFWs in Saudi Arabia and other mid-east countries are still vibrant and in good prospect,” Monterona added.
Sec. Roque, based on news reports, said on the report of the labor attaches there is “continuous increase in the number of Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.”
“But the drop of work visa issuances as in the case of Saudi Arabia tells us the otherwise,” Monterona averred.
Monterona said Philippine labor attaches did not tell to Sec. Roque the real picture of employment prospect for OFWs here in Saudi Arabia and in other mid-east countries.
“This is a good starting point for the next President to consider reviewing the labor export program of the government and its continued reliance on OFWs remittances which in the long run we are seeing a constricted labor market for OFWs,” Monterona added.
“Thus, the May 10 election is a good chance for voting populace to elect a Presidentiable and candidates that have a clear platform for local jobs generation by improving the local economy through implementation of genuine agrarian reform program and nationalization of basic industries that would serve as the Philippine economic backbone towards economic prosperity,” the Saudi-based OFW leader added.
Monterona ended saying “This is precisely one of the major reasons why the more than 120 Migrante chapters around the world have endorsed and supported the candidacy of MAKABAYAN-NP Senatorial candidates Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza because both are for genuine agrarian reform and nationalization of basic industries.”
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator