Thousands of Filipino workers apply for Saudi repatriation
An estimated 7,000 overseas Filipino workers, illegally residing in Saudi Arabia, have applied for voluntary repatriation since the first quarter of 2011, Migrante Middle East (M-ME) said.
The majority of workers have absconding cases filed against them by their sponsor but continue to work part-time illegally, regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said in a statement.
“Sixty to 70 percent of the undocumented are facing absconding case filed by their sponsor-employer,” he said.
Saudi Arabia is the biggest employer of Filipinos in the Middle East with an estimated 1.2 million working in the oil rich Gulf state. Around 15 percent of Filipinos workers in the kingdom are estimated to work as maids or drivers.
The kingdom in April set a minimum wage of SAR600-800 (US$160-213) for foreign domestic workers in the Gulf state. Officials in the GCC’s largest country set the cost of recruitment fees at SAR15,000 - 17,000, local media reported citing Saad Al-Badah, chairman of the national recruitment committee at the Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
The Gulf state stopped issuing visas for domestic workers from the Philippines and Indonesia after those governments attempted to impose stricter conditions on Saudi employers, such as higher minimum pay and better working conditions.