PH bishop hopes Saudi labor reforms cover domestic workers
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, Vice Chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. CBCPNEWS
By CBCP News
November 10, 2020
A Philippine Catholic bishop hopes that household service workers would be among those covered in Saudi Arabia’s move to ease foreign workers’ contractual restrictions.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, vice chairman of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, said the labor reform would benefit Filipino domestic workers.
Saudi Arabia has eased a foreign worker sponsorship system, known as kafala, giving employers control over the lives of some 10 million migrant workers from several countries.
The reforms, which will take effect in March 2021, allow private sector workers to change jobs and leave the country without an employer’s consent.
“We pray and hope that our domestic workers would be included with the easing of kafala,” Santos said.
“Once they will be covered, it will be a welcome relief and valuable protection for our domestic workers,” he said.
According to him, the kafala system makes migrant workers “open to and prone to maltreatment and exploitation”.
“With kafala, they are unwillingly tied up to their employers as if ‘owned’ by them. Their movements are curtailed, and cannot leave the country,” Santos said.
“So we encourage our government officials to appeal that our domestic workers should be included with easing of kafala,” he added.
An estimated 2.3 million Filipinos work abroad, with Saudi Arabia still the top destination for these workers.
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