OFW deployment to Middle East affected by low oil prices
Falling oil prices and the tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran have resulted in fewer Filipino workers being deployed to the Middle East, a report by JP Soriano on "24 Oras" said Tuesday.
Tess Pamil, a recruitment officer, said deployment of Filipino workers, especially in Saudi Arabia, has slowed down since crude prices started dropping.
"Hindi masyadong marami ang nadi-deploy dahil nga humina 'yung oil companies ngayon, lalo na 'pag [papuntang] Saudi," Pamil said.
The world price of oil has fallen below the $30/barrel benchmark for the first time in 12 years, which according to reports, represents a 72 percent drop from levels just 18 months ago.
Labor Communications Office head Nicon Fameronag said they have yet to receive an official report regarding massive displacement of foreign workers in the oil industry in the Middle East.
"Wala kaming anumang natatanggap pa na official report na magkakaroon ng massive displacement, at kung magkakaroon man, kung talagang 'di maiiwasan, nakahanda naman ang Department of Labor and Employment na tumugon sa mga pangangailangan ng ating OFWs," he said.
Fameronag said as part of its preparations to address the possible adverse effects on falling oil prices to OFWs, the Department of Labor and Employment has started assessing the employment details of Filipinos working in big oil companies in the Middle East.
"Maraming engineers na mga Filipino, mga oil and gas workers na nasa mga malalaking kumpanya katulad ng ARAMCO. Pinatitingnan na rin 'yun ni [Labor] Secretary [Rosalinda] Baldoz, kung ilan ang bilang, saan sila nagtatrabaho, at ano ang kanilang mga sweldo para nga mapaghandaan dito sa Pilipinas," he said.
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The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) stated that it is prepared to provide help and skills training to Filipinos repatriated or forced to return home from the Middle East.
Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) place the number of OFWs in the Middle East to two million, many of them working in the oil and gas industry.
OFW advocate Susan Ople had earlier urged Congress to conduct an inquiry into the adverse effects of falling oil prices not only on OFWs in the Middle East but also on the private recruitment industry.
In a press release last week, Ople said she was informed by a local recruitment firm, Profile Overseas Manpower Services, Inc., that a Saudi company has terminated the work contracts of over 50 recently deployed workers.
She said another recruitment agency, LBS Recruitment Solutions, has also informed her that a construction company in Qatar had told the agency that it would no longer need Filipino workers because its engineering project has been put on hold by the Qatari government.
Ople, who is running for senator, noted that this is the first time in recent history that overseas workers are being laid off in the Middle East due to cost-cutting measures by oil-rich states. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News