Pinoy jobless in Saudi Arabia after only 5 months due to 'restructuring'
Elmer Ednillan was a heavy equipment operator in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, who had a two-year contract with a company involved in the construction of buildings including those of oil companies.
However, five months into his employment, Ednillan was laid off due to corporate restructuring being implemented by the company, prompting him to return to the Philippines instead.
In a report by JP Soriano on "24 Oras," Ednillan said he knew of other Filipino workers who also lost their jobs recently in Saudi Arabia, a prime destination of OFWs.
"May mga kasabayan din ako [na] ganun din sa kanila, 'yung company nagbabawas," he said.
The report said Ednillan, who has a wife and three children in Mindanao, has sought assistance from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), which said it will get in touch with his recruitment agency.
Lawyer Celso Hernandez Jr., POEA legal officer, said Ednillan's recruiter should have known that there has been a dearth in construction projects in the Middle East since last year.
"'Pag nagkakaroon ng restructuring, dapat alam na nila (recruiters) at hindi na nila pinagpapatuloy [ang pagpapadala ng tao]," Hernandez said.
A survey by employment agency Hays in November showed that one of three oil and gas companies in the Middle East have laid off workers recently. In the 28 countries surveyed, 93 percent of employers have laid off workers in 2015.
Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose said they are coordinating with other government agencies to come up with appropriate compensation and assistance programs for displaced Filipino workers.
"Meron kaming inter-agency group and we are studying options kung paano natin matutulungan ang mga kababayan natin dito," Jose said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and the POEA have yet to determine the exact number of Filipino workers who have lost their jobs due to falling oil prices in the Middle East.
The POEA, however, has noted that some companies are no longer hiring new employees.
Meanwhile, returning OFWs are encouraged to enroll in the labor department's Assist WELL program to find new employment opportunities both locally or abroad, establish businesses, or seek welfare and legal assistance.
According to data from the Department of Labor and Employment, most OFWs in the Middle East are on contracts that span one to two years.
Of the two million documented Filipino workers in the region, some 1.5 million or 77 percent are classified as temporary workers.
Nine percent or some 180,324 are permanent, while less than three percent are undocuments.
Nearly 900,000 OFWs work in Saudi Arabia. —Rie Takumi/KBK/JST, GMA News