No word yet on ‘Saudization’, says Baldoz

QUEZON CITY, Philippines—Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz has clarified that the Philippines has yet to receive any formal advice from Saudi Arabia on the kingdom’s policy to put a cap on foreign workforce and employ more locals.

Baldoz was earlier quoted by the press as saying about 140,000 Filipinos could lose jobs in Saudi Arabia due to “Saudization” and oil-rich Arab state’s latest move to ban domestic helpers from the Philippines and Indonesia.

She said that “Saudization” is not new, explaining that since 2006 the Saudi government has enacted policies to promote the program in a bid to solve the country’s growing unemployment problem.

Baldoz stressed that the program only covers the field service professionals, and not the household workers.

But Saudi Arabia announced last month it would stop hiring Filipino maids after the Philippines demanded for better pay and greater measures to ensure the safety of about 20,000 to 50,000 Filipina household helpers in the Islamic kingdom.

Baldoz said that when she was in Geneva last June, the Labor Minister of Saudi Arabia requested for a bilateral meeting with the Philippine labor department. “There was no mention of ‘Saudization’ in that meeting. In fact, they even officially stated that they will hire millions of workers, alongside their nationals, whom they need to push their development goals.”

Saudi Arabia currently a vast modernization program which will require specialize manpower in infrastructure development. Baldoz said that this assures sustained employment opportunities for those who wish to work in the kingdom.

There are about 1.3 million Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia.

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