Labor officials from the Philippines and Qatar convened the 1st RP-Qatar Joint Committee Meeting in Bohol recently to strengthen bilateral labor relations and opportunities for both countries, specifically the availability of more than 100,000 jobs for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Qatar, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today said.
Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said officials from the two countries discussed the ratification of the Additional Protocol to the RP-Qatar Agreement Concerning Filipino Manpower Employment in Qatar, which the country entered into with the Qatari government in 1997 to provide for the deployment and welfare protection for OFWs in Qatar.
Roque said the two delegations also discussed the employment prospects for OFWs in Qatar. He said Qatar approved a total of 296,787 work visas for OFWs between October 2008 to March 2009 out of which about 190,000 were already filled up, indicating that over 100,000 work visas are still available for OFWs.
The DOLE Chief said that about 85 % of the available jobs for OFWs in the Qatar requires technical and highly-skilled workers in the construction sector.
The Philippine delegation was composed of DOLE Undersecretary Arturo L. Sodusta, Deputy Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Director Albert Q. Valenciano of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and Labor Attaché Vivo V. Vidal.
The Qatar delegation was headed by Deputy Minister Hussain Yousuf Al-Mulla of the Ministry of Labour (MOL) with other MOL officials, namely, Director Khalid Al-Hayder of the Department of International Relations, Mr. Saleh Al-Khaldi of the Legal Department, and Mr. Ibrahim Al-Hail of the Public Relations Department, as members.
The two delegations also agreed to address illegal recruitment and excessive charging of fees by recruitment agencies by actively exchanging needed information involving such cases especially those involving household service workers.
Along this line, Roque said the DOLE proposed that OFWs be required exit clearance prior to their deployment to Qatar as preventive measure against the illegal recruitment of workers to this country.
The DOLE, he added, would also submit its training proposal to the Qatari government for the latter’s cooperation and assistance in training OFWs in line with efforts to ensure adequate supply of skilled workers for manpower requirements of employers in this country.
Meanwhile, the Qatari delegation explained Qatar’s new Sponsorship law. The law provides that in proven cases of abuse of workers such as those involving maltreatment, physical abuse, and non-payment of wages, Qatar’s MOL or its Ministry of Interior or the labor court can allow the workers to transfer to other employers.
If a Filipino worker filed a case in the labor court and the regular court, his/her employer cannot send the worker back the Philippines until the pending claims of the worker are settled.