x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 September 2017

Saudi Arabia bans Filipino and Indonesian maids

The kingdom said it will no longer issue work permits for domestic workers from Indonesia and the Philippines after the two countries issued new hiring guidelines insisting on more information about employers and a mandatory minimum wage.

RIYADH // Saudi Arabia's Labour Ministry said the kingdom would no longer issue work permits for domestic workers from Indonesia and the Philippines after these nations issued new hiring guidelines. Khatab Al Atiry, the ministry's spokesman, said yesterday the decision would be effective from July 2. The new terms laid out by the Asian countries included the release of more information about employers and a mandatory minimum wage. Indonesia said on June 22 it would not send domestic workers to Saudi Arabia until Riyadh signed a deal on migrant-worker protection. The moratorium came after the execution days earlier of an Indonesian maid convicted of murdering her Saudi employer's wife. Indonesian officials complained they were not informed that the execution would be taking place. In May, the Philippines rejected an appeal from Saudi Arabia to cut the minimum wage for Filipina maids in half and said it would not be sending new domestic helpers until the dispute was resolved. The labour secretary, Rosalinda Baldoz, said the Saudi government wanted the minimum monthly salary for Filipina maids lowered from US$400 (Dh1,469) to $200. Indonesians and Filipinos make up the bulk of household workers in Saudi Arabia, where they work as maids, drivers and gardeners. An estimated 250,000 Filipinos and 900,000 Indonesians work in these jobs. The Filipinos in Saudi Arabia represent just a portion of about 9 million Filipinos, or 10 per cent of the population, who work in some 190 countries to escape poverty and unemployment at home. Workers abroad send back remittances amounting to 10 per cent of the Philippines' annual gross domestic product, fuelling domestic consumption and keeping the local economy afloat.