No massive retrenchment of Pinoy workers in Middle East –DOLE
The Philippine labor department has yet to monitor any massive retrenchment of Filipino workers in the Middle East linked to the supposed austerity measures being implemented by oil companies.
In a press briefing Friday, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz also said the reported termination notices to foreign employees in the Middle East are "hardly traceable" to the drastic plunge in oil prices.
"Wala po tayong dapat ikabahala sa oras na ito... Stable po at in-control po ang aming Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO)," she said.
Still, POLO officials are monitoring the situation in the Middle East, Baldoz said.
"We set up a weekly progress report for updates on what's happening in our labor offices worldwide, lalong-lalo na po sa Middle East," she said.
Fewer job orders
Based on data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the POLO in Saudi Arabia reported an 1.11-percent decrease in job orders, or from 2,621 in December 2015 to 2,346 in January 2016. It was attributed to Saudization policy, fiscal constraints of companies and redundancies.
Saudi Arabia, where majority of the over 2 million OFWs in the Middle East are, also reported a seasonal drop in employment contracts and overseas employment certificates (OECs) issued, DOLE said.
Meanwhile, the POLO in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reported an 82-percent decline in January job orders, or from 85 in the first week to 16 in the fourth week of the month. Some 32 contracts were also terminated for reasons ranging from redundancy to absenteeism, though the affected OFWs were granted end-of-service benefits.
An 18.78-percent decrease in job orders was also verified in Dubai, though none were reported in the oil sector. Companies also reported an intent to adjust compensation package even before the decline in oil prices.
Meanwhile, Baldoz said contingency plans are in place for OFWs, particularly temporary workers, who may find themselves out of job because of the oil situation.
Specifically, the Assist WELL (Welfare, Employment, Livelihood, Labor) program, which was launced on Friday, offers services that will help OFWs find jobs locally or abroad.
Training and livelihood programs are also available to aid in re-skilling and business creation.
"It just takes a retooling. They will just have to be open to be trained and the jobs are there," Baldoz said.
An oversupply of oil caused a global decline of oil prices, affecting the economy of the crude-reliant Middle East.
Conflict between Saudi and Iran contributed to the downtrend as Saudi continues to supply oil and Iran doubles its production to take advantage of the lifting of international sanctions.
There are over 2 million Filipino workers in the Middle East, most of them in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Iran. —KBK, GMA News