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Job Warning
« on: June 05, 2007, 01:28:32 PM »
Filipinos shrug off jobs ban warning
By EUNICE del ROSARIO

A TOP Philippine labour official has shrugged off threats by labour recruiters from Bahrain and other Gulf countries to stop taking in Filipino workers.

In a statement released in Manila on Friday, Department of Labour and Employment acting labour secretary Danilo Cruz said that (Philippine) officials do not believe in nor do they see any truth in the manpower agencies' collective threat.

Gulf manpower agencies said in a meeting in Bahrain on Thursday that they will urge their governments to stop issuing work visas to Filipinos until a dispute over housemaids' wages was resolved.

A meeting of the GCC Recruiters Committee unanimously agreed in Bahrain to submit the request for the ban until conditions set by the Philippines government are revised.

The new regulations seek a minimum wage of $400 (BD150) and improved standard of living for Filipino workers being employed as household service workers in the GCC.

The minimum wage was passed in December last year and maids planning to go overseas must first undergo familiarisation training with the culture, beliefs and practices of their prospective employers.

Employers of Filipino maids are asked to expect to be called for interviews at the Philippine Embassy and they are also now being required to sign a declaration that they will face a BD5 fine everyday if they fail to pay workers their salaries on time.

Labour Ministries in Bahrain and four other GCC countries have said the minimum wage was not legally binding, but if employers do not agree to them then the Philippines government will not process their staff's contracts.

In April this year the UAE and the Philippines agreed to a unified contract for housemaids - which included the raising of the minimum wage to $400 (BD150). Embassies in the region expressed hopes that their host countries would soon follow.

Bahrain Recruiters Society chairman Fareed Al Mahmeed had said that GCC recruiters have approved a decision that they will urge their governments through the chambers of commerce to stop issuing working visas to all skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled Filipino workers.

"We hope our governments will support us," he said.

"It is affecting our citizens, it is affecting business and it is interfering in these countries' policies and rules."

He said that he hoped the decision would give GCC governments an opportunity to speak with their Filipino counterparts and reach a compromise, and claimed the committee's actions would have the backing of Filipinos.

However, Philippine Ambassador Eduardo Maglaya said any such ban would be open to accusations of discrimination.

"If it is specific that they mention only Filipinos then I think that it is discriminatory," he had told GDN.

"Filipinos are the preferred employees in the service industry and we have reasons why we should also take care of our nationals.

"I guess what every normal embassy would do is protect their own nationals in the same manner as the GCC embassies would do for their citizens abroad."

In Bahrain, maids account for 40 per cent of the total Filipino population.

The embassy had estimated that there are more than 40,000 Filipinos in Bahrain. Last year, the embassy handled 4,978 cases of Filipinos with employment problems - 95pc of which involved maids.

Based on data provided by the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the six GCC member-states employed 435,190 Filipinos as of December last year.

This was broken down into: Saudi Arabia - 223,459; UAE - 99,212; Kuwait - 47,917; Qatar - 45,795; Bahrain - 11,736; and Oman - 7,071.

The figures are based on the report of the POEA on the actual departures of overseas Filipino workers at the international airports. dreunice@gdn.com.bh (gulf-daily-news.com)

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