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ucanews.com reporter, Manila, Philippines
May 20, 2013
The Philippines and Saudi Arabia signed a new bilateral labor agreement on Sunday that looks set to increase the number of Filipino domestic workers in the kingdom and improve conditions for those already working there.
“The agreement is historic and significant for Philippines-Saudi bilateral relations," Philippine labor minister Rosalinda Baldoz and her Saudi counterpart Adel Bin Mohammed Fakeih said in a joint statement.
"The Philippines is confident that other countries of destination will emulate Saudi Arabia and, thus, follow its very commendable move," Baldoz said.
She said around 60,000 domestic workers of the estimated 670,000 Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia will benefit from the labor agreement.
Baldoz said the agreement will ensure the authenticity of employment contracts and speed up the settlement of labor contract violation cases. A 24 hour mechanism for domestic workers' assistance will be put in place.
The Philippines, meanwhile, is expected to ensure that workers are qualified, medically fit and of good character. All employment contracts submitted by Saudi Arabian recruitment offices will also be verified.
The labor deal also specifies an entry level minimum salary of SR1,500 (US$400) as well as weekly rest days and vacation leave with pay.
The agreement also prohibits Saudi employers from holding the passports and work permits of their employees, allows workers freedom of movement and to freely express their thoughts on how they are being treated to the authorities.
Fakeih welcomed the agreement saying "it is the first time that Saudi Arabia has signed such an agreement with a labor-sending country."
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