By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — According to Innabuyog-Gabriela Secretary General Veron Malecdan, the kingdom’s new rule on protecting the rights of foreign domestic workers has caused great relief among the Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia and surfaced the lack of confidence of the OFWs in the migrant act of 1995 supposedly for the protection of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
On July 16, the Agence France Press reported that Saudi Arabia set new rules for the protection of the rights of foreign domestic workers. Among the rules are the employers must pay their workers on time; they should give them one day off a week; should be provided suitable housing and are entitled to rest for not less than nine hours a day.
The Saudi government also announced that for those who have already worked for two years, are entitled to sick leave with pay and a one-month paid vacation. They will also be given a severance package in case of the termination of service.
Malecdan said that the ruling would sound kind of redundant for the Filipinos as they should already be protected under the Migrant Workers and Overseas Fiipinos Act of 1995 or RA 8042. This labor protection law for OFWs, she said was passed to protect Filipinos working abroad but the government’s political will to implement it is wanting.
“Ang kulang lang kasi sa act na ito ay ang political will ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas na ipatupad ito.” she stated.
According to the act, “the State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all. Towards this end, the State shall provide adequate and timely social, economic and legal services to Filipino migrant workers.”
She said that when the Saudi government issued its new rule for the foreign domestic workers, the Filipino maids working there were relieved as it seems they never have never felt at all any protection from the Philippine government tha is supposed to be active in pushing for the implementation of RA 8042.
“Hindi natin alam kung meron batas na katulad nito sa ibang bansa para sa kanilang overseas workers pero dapat ang batas na ito ang matagal sanang proteksiyon ng mga kababayan natin sa pinapasukan nila,” (We do not know if there are laws like these in other countries for their overseas workers but laws like this should protect our fellow Filipinos working abroad) Malecdan said.
Malecdan said that while the new rule will somewhat benefit the foreign domestic workers , their true safety is not still fully guaranteed from abuses by their employers. Aside from the benefits for the foreign workers, the Saudi government set conditions for them to follow as well. They are told to respect Islam and its teachings and to obey their employers. She said the workers will still be bound to this. According to her, the domestic workers are required to sign agreement to these conditions in black and white.
She said the Philippines through its labor office in Saudi Arabia should be responsible enough to see that the employers comply with the new rules to assure the protection of OFWs. # nordis.net