Lifting of ME deployment ban bucked

April 10, 2022 People's Journal 47 views

A labor official has dismissed proposals to lift the ban on the deployment of Filipino workers in some parts of the Middle East.

Labor AttachE Alejandro Padaen of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Lebanon said it may be unwise to do so at this time.

Padaen said the DOLE should first consult with people on the ground and carefully study the situation in destination countries before making policy pronouncements.

Abdullah Mama-o, newly appointed secretary of the Department of Migrant Workers is eyeing the lifting of suspension on the deployment of new hired skilled and household service workers to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region including Libya and Iraq.

Citing the particular case of Lebanon, Padaen said the country is yet to recover from the political and economic turmoil, and has yet to conclude an agreement on a standard contract, especially those covering domestic workers.

“Considering the economic aspect, it may not be the right time yet to deploy new hires in Lebanon. Several companies have closed down and we have not been deploying household service workers since 2007,” Padaen said.

“The Balik-Manggagawa that we process are those who have relatives here and have come through informal channels. It will be better if we assess first and study the situation before we start deploying again,” he added.

In January 2020, the Department of Foreign Affairs has raised the Alert Level in Lebanon from 1 (Precautionary Phase) to 2 (Restriction Phase). OFWs with existing employment contracts and are registered under the Balik Manggagawa Program are allowed return to Lebanon.

Accordingly, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) issued POEA Governing Board Resolution No. 08 series of 2020 which suspends the processing and deployment of newly-hired workers bound for Lebanon, including crew changes, embarkation, disembarkation, and shore leaves for seafarers.

Padaen meanwhile suggested for the finalization of the Standard Employment Contract for Domestic Workers pending the agreement between the Philippine and Lebanese governments.

“I think we can explore the possibility of finalizing the Standard Employment Contract for Domestic Workers first. Negotiations stopped in 2012 and have not pushed forward since then,” he added.

Padaen said there are 17,000-19,000 Filipinos in Lebanon in June 2021, but the numbers may be less now due to on-going repatriation efforts. The latest batch of OFWs were repatriated last month.

Among the repatriates are OFW wards from the POLO shelter and most of whom complained of not receiving enough salaries or not receiving their salary on time.

Meanwhile, Padaen said the POLO continues to process job orders for its other jurisdictions, such as Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Northern Cyprus.

He said the employment prospects in Turkey look favorable, especially when the COVID situation improves.

There is demand for household service workers (HSWs) in Turkey and the POLO has already accredited 11 foreign recruitment agencies for their deployment. The salary of an HSW is at USD800 per month, which is almost double the salary of those in other countries.

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