Saudi agrees to minimum wage for Filipino maids

Posted at 09/27/12 10:52 PM

MANILA - Saudi Arabia has agreed to a $400 monthly minimum wage for Filipina maids, a year after a row over the issue halted the entry of such workers, Philippines officials said Thursday.

Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay, who oversees the welfare of Filipino overseas workers, said in a statement that the kingdom had agreed to lift its ban on Filipino workers, imposed in June 2011.

"More than the lifting of the ban, I find the decision of the Saudi government to increase the mandated salary for our household service workers further proof of a shared commitment to protect (their) welfare," he added.

Binay's spokesman Joey Salgado later confirmed that Saudi Arabia had agreed to the $400 minimum monthly wage that the Philippines had been asking for its maids -- one of the key issues that led to the ban being imposed.

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the Philippines, Abdullah Al-Hassan, said an agreement would be forged within a month allowing Filipina maids to be allowed back into his country, without going into details.

The row erupted last year when Manila insisted the minimum wage for its maids was necessary to protect them from exploitation. Riyadh had resisted the demand and suspended the processing of employment contracts.

Saudi Arabia is a major employer of Filipinos, with 1.2 million working there as labourers, technicians, salesgirls and domestic helpers.

They are part of the estimated nine million Filipinos -- or about 10 percent of the population -- who work overseas and whose remittances back home are a major pillar of the economy.

The welfare of overseas Filipino workers, who frequently face abuse and exploitation while abroad, is a sensitive issue back home.