THE Philippine Daily Inquirer is reporting that the unified contract scheme that the Saudi government has been pushing for has been postponed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency indefinitely after opposition by labour groups, the foreign secretary Roberto Romulo and Senate President Manny Villar.
This is good news for overseas Filipino workers as under this scheme Saudi employers would be allowed to substitute contracts when OFWs landed in the Kingdom, something that is illegal in the Philippines and should not be allowed to happen.
Already too many foreign workers sign one contract in their home country and then are forced to sign new ones when they arrive in the Gulf. Most do because they are already in debt and do not have the financial or moral resources to put up a fight. Of course, once they sign, their new meaner contracts become legally binding, and then it is too late to place a legal complaint.
The Philippine government should not cave in to Saudi pressure and approve the unified contract scheme. It is highly disadvantageous to Filipino workers, and officials in both countries know that.