Workers from the Philippines, including domestic and construction workers, will be able to go to Saudi Arabia for work again, after the southeast Asian country lifted a temporary labor migration ban.
Officials say the lifting of the ban is a response to a series of measures that have been taken to tackle the exploitation of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.
How have governments improved protections for migrant workers?
The Philippines government imposed the ban last year due to systematic abuse, including the non-payment of wages, and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, labor officials believe that recent reforms will improve protections for Filipino workers.
Susan Ople, who heads the country’s newly established Department of Migrant Workers, said months of negotiations with Saudi Arabian officials have led to an agreement on additional safeguards, including the adoption of a standard employment contract that provides insurance coverage for workers for non-payment of salaries and allows workers to change employers in the case of abuse.
Dedicated Saudi officials will handle human trafficking complaints and a fairer system for settling disputes between workers and employers will be rolled out.
Moreover, officials from both countries will meet to review salaries of Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia and to continue discussions about unpaid wages dating back six years.
A country powered by remittances
The economy of the Philippines relies heavily on the money overseas workers send home to their families. Indeed, around one in ten of the population currently live and work abroad.
However, despite the financial gains of overseas work, Filipino workers have faced systemic abuse and exploitation around the world, especially domestic workers.
Call on Saudi Arabia to ratify Convention 189
The Domestic Workers Convention 189 is a global standard that sets out measures for governments to protect domestic workers, but many governments are yet to ratify it, including Saudi Arabia.
We welcome the collaboration between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia to improve conditions and strengthen protections for migrant workers, and call on Saudi Arabia to continue this progress by ratifying the Domestic Workers Convention 189 immediately.