By ROY C. MABASA
August 22, 2011, 7:07pmMANILA, Philippines — The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is ready to reopen its doors for the recruitment Filipino domestic helpers after it reached a compromise agreement with the Philippine government on work contracts that remove most of the terms earlier imposed by Manila.
The new deal cancels the requirement of a good conduct certificate for the Saudi employer and establishes $400 as the monthly minimum wage, inclusive of housing and food.
“We have reached an agreement in this respect and we expect the Saudi Ministry of Labor to open the door again for issuing visas for domestic workers from the Philippines,” Waleed Suweidan, director of the Saudi-Philippine Business Council in the capital Riyadh, was quoted by Middle East-based newspapers.
“We have sorted out all previous problems and obstacles with the Philippine side, which has canceled all terms it has stipulated in the previous contract, including a certificate of good conduct by the employer in Saudi Arabia, the number of family members, and the employer’s salary,” he added.
Early this year, Riyadh had suspended the hiring of housemaids from the Philippines and Indonesia after the two countries introduced stringent terms for their employment in the Kingdom, one of the world’s largest bases for Asian housemaids and the second for Philippine domestic workers after the United Arab Emirates.
Saudi's decision to stop hiring Filipino domestic workers was reportedly a result of a breakdown in the negotiations between the two countries over labor issues imposed by Manila such as the minimum monthly wage of $400, submission of prospective Saudi employers of the location map of their residence and the opening of a bank account by the employer for the hired domestic workers to ensure that latter will be paid of her salary, among others.
Employment offices across Saudi Arabia said they were already negotiating with other countries such as Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Eritrea to supply maids and offset a shortage, resulting from the boycott of Philippine and Indonesian domestic workers.
Meanwhile, Philippine Ambassador-designate in Riyadh Ezzadin Tago was also quoted as saying that the hiring of maids would be through recruitment offices authorized by both Riyadh and Manila.
“We have presented a new formula for the job contract for Philippine domestic workers to the Saudi Ministry of Labor and are now awaiting a decision from the ministry to end the ban,” Tago said.