x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Saudi Arabia signs deal to stop exploitation of Filipina maids

Staff have been guaranteed one day off per week and a 24-hour helpline.

MANILA // The Philippines said yesterday it had signed a historic agreement with Saudi Arabia that would protect thousands of Filipina maids from being exploited in the kingdom.

The agreement guarantees Filipinas a day off each week and prevents their hiring costs from being deducted from their salary among other safeguards, said labour secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.

"We are very confident that cases of abuse will be less after this agreement takes effect because the agreement ensures fair and humane treatment of our home service workers," she said.

She estimated that 60,000 domestic helpers from among the 670,000 Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia would benefit from the accord, which would also attract more Filipinas to work in Saudi Arabia.

Under the agreement, Saudi Arabia is committed to set up a 24-hour hotline for labour dispute resolution, the department said.

The agreement offers other safeguards aimed to prevent the exploitation of Filipina maids, ensuring that their passports are not confiscated and that they receive rest days.

It follows a row that erupted in 2011 when the Philippines insisted on a minimum wage for its maids among other measures.

Saudi Arabia initially resisted the demands and suspended the entry of new maids but in September of last year, it agreed to a US$400 (Dh1,470) a month minimum wage and lifted the ban.

About 10 per cent of the Philippine population of almost 100 million have gone abroad to work in better-paying jobs abroad.