Saudi to accept PH domestic workers' applications

Posted at 10/01/2012 8:18 AM | Updated as of 10/02/2012 9:10 AM

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia will begin accepting applications for domestic workers from the Philippines on Monday after the two governments resolved a row over minimum pay that had prompted a ban, state media said.

"The Saudi labour ministry announced it will begin accepting applications for domestic workers from the Philippines starting tomorrow," the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The move came after the ministry "reached an agreement with the Philippines on a final version for contracts between the two sides that ensures their rights," the news agency said.

Philippine officials said on Thursday that Saudi Arabia had agreed to a minimum wage of $400 a month for Filipina maids, a year after a row over the issue halted the entry of such workers.

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

The ban came after Manila insisted on a minimum wage for its domestic staff 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 in the kingdom as manual labourers, technicians, saleswomen and maids.

They are part of an estimated nine million Filipinos who work overseas and who account for some 10 percent of the population. Their remittances are a mainstay of the economy.

The welfare of overseas workers has become a major political issue in the Philippines amid complaints of abuse and exploitation.

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