DAVAO CITY – Filipino migrants group, Migrante International warned of a looming mass retrenchment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East and urged the Philippine government to prepare measures that will mitigate the impact on affected OFWs.
“We have been observing the current economic woes plaguing governments in the Middle East hosting millions of OFWs. Saudi Arabia, as an example, incurred a huge budget deficit primarily due to the drop of oil prices falling below the $30/barrel level,” said John Leonard Monterona Migrante Middle East regional coordinator.
Monterona noted that the Saudi Arabia government has already instituted economic reforms and austerity measures which will affect OFWs.
Citing government data, Monterona said there are at least 2.3 million OFWs in the Middle East, with half of the population living and working in Saudi Arabia.
“Due to the Kingdom’s budget cuts and other austerity measures, government projects, including infrastructures and the development of various economic cities are also affected,” he said.
“Some of these projects have been delayed and some have been temporarily stopped. Hence, there are OFWs and other country nationals (OCN) working for private construction firms who have received termination notice of their work contracts,” said Monterona.
Monterona, a Riyadh-based OFW, said at least 30 OFWs who were recently deployed were retrenched by the construction firm where they work.
“All are still under a three-month probationary period,” he added.
“We are also receiving queries and requests for assistance from OFWs based in Qatar as they, too, were terminated from work. They were told that their project with the Doha government has been temporarily on hold due to budget constraints,” Monterona added. (davaotoday.com)