John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, said the categorization of private companies into three coded color under the Nitaqat program is now being implemented.
Companies, local and foreign, will be classified into three categories: Green, if the company complies the minimum 10% of the total numbers of staff hired are Saudis; Yellow category if it employed Saudi below 10%, and Red if the company does not employ any single local Saudi.
The coding of companies is expected to boost the implementation of the Saudization scheme implemented years ago but failed because of the refusal of many local and foreign companies to commit and follow the policy.
Monterona noted that it has been clarified by the Saudi ministry that expats employed by "Red" companies, mostly private, based on the assessment of the labor ministry will be subjected to 6-yr. work permit limit unless their company complies of the Saudization requirement -that is hiring Saudis of at least 10% of its total work force.
Companies in "Yellow" category will be told to comply strictly the Saudization requirement otherwise their expat will be subjected to 6-yr. work permit cap.
The coded color category of a company can be known by visiting the Ministry of Labor's website (www.mol.gov.sa).
"The clarification issued by the Saudi ministry of labor does not lessen the worries of our fellow OFWs and migrant workers of other nationalities, but those working in 'Red' and 'Yellow' companies are not totally 'safe'," Monterona added.
Monterona revealed that he has been receiving reports that there are a number of OFWs recently been terminated from their respective jobs as an effect of the Nitaqat system.
He cited for instance a consultancy firm that hires more than 50% of its staff are Filipinos had recently terminated 12 Filipino engineers and more to follow in its bid to categorize the company to 'Green' from 'Yellow'.
"Owners of the companies will have to reduce the numbers of its expatriate workers in order to increase the percentage of the numbers of its local hired Saudis. And this is as expected," Monterona added.
Migrante-ME estimated that if the Nitaqat system is fully implemented, there will be around 350,000 OFWs who will be affected.
"The Aquino govt. should ready its reintegration and jobs transfer program as it will be facing hundreds of terminated OFWs coming home as an effect of the shrinking of the labor market in Saudi and other mid-east countries as millions of Arab peoples are jobless and demanding jobs from their governments," Monterona added.
On the top of expat communities in Saudi Arabia in terms of population are the Pakistanis whose numbers are estimated to reached 1.8-M, the Indian expats of about 1.5, Egyptians of about 1.3 and OFWs estimated to have reached 1.2-M.