UAE, Philippines pledge workers’ safety
Published on July 1, 2014
DUBAI The suspension of all contract verifications for Philippine Household Service Workers (HSWs) coming to the UAE was a surprise to everyone, and the surge of immense media coverage on the story left people confused as for whom to blame.
However, this is not a situation where one of the parties made a mistake, but rather a step forward to creating a safer working environment for household service workers — one that is free of abuse, illegal activity and trafficking.
The UAE recently created a unified contract for all HSWs in the nation. This contract will make it easier for lawmakers and law enforcement to track any breaches in the UAE law. A single procedure will now be followed by law enforcement agencies when encountered by a case, instead of having a case-by-case procedure, which is more time consuming and makes communication between agencies complicated.
This change in the way the HSWs industry functions will need cooperation on both sides of the spectrum, and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has been communicating with the UAE to abide by all its new rules and requirements. The Secretary of the Department of Labour and Employment at the Philippine Consulate in Dubai, Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, said, “I am confident that the UAE and the Philippines will arrive at a mutually-beneficial agreement on the employment of household service workers.” She is communicating with authorities back in the Philippines to ensure a smooth transition. “The UAE has expressed interest to negotiate with the Philippines on this matter and we are glad to do so,” she added.
Several incidents are recorded annually about Filipino workers arriving in the UAE with tourist visas and getting employed. These people are prone to human rights abuses and other illegal activities. Sadly, their status as ‘illegal workers’ makes it difficult for the Philippine Government or the UAE Ministry of Labour to assist them. Despite the big risk that this will put a person in, incidents of people working without work permits have been on the rise. The Philippines has made travel to the UAE more difficult, but aspiring and uninformed workers have resorted to indirect flights to the UAE, stopping at cities like Hong Kong or Singapore before making their trip to the Emirates. To stop this, tighter regulations became the need of the hour. And that’s where the new contract was brought in place.
Dimapilis-Baldoz said, “I have further directed the POEA to advise licensed recruitment agencies to explore markets for household workers other than the UAE, even as I strongly warn illegal recruiters against deploying household workers in the UAE”. This statement clearly indicates the HSW industry in the UAE will be smaller and more tightly regulated than ever before. At The Community, we see this as an advantageous step to a future where all workers in the nation are fully protected and have their rights honoured.
In the middle of this media frenzy, we have forgotten the essence of this issue. It was not a case of disagreement on minimum wages as some newspapers mentioned, but rather an action taken against illegal activity in order to restrict its expansion.