"The announcement of implementing work permit cap for expatriate workers raises serious anxieties not only to our OFWs but as well as to migrants of other nationalities, said Mario Ben, chairperson of Migrante in Saudi Arabia.
Ben has been working in Saudi for 15 years, who like other 'older' OFWs, fear that they might lose their job if the work permit limit will be implemented.
Ben noted that many Saudi-based OFWs are rehires working more than 6 years.
Ben added that he has been receiving numerous calls from fellow OFWs asking about the matter. "Most of our OFWs who have called me express serious apprehension over the implementation of the 6-yr. work permit limit as announced by the Saudi labor ministry," he added.
John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, said he too has been receiving numerous calls not only from fellow OFWs but as well as from migrants of other nationalities.
"Me too have been receiving queries from Pakistanis, Bangladeshi, and Indian expats about this 6-yr. work permit cap; one thing common I have noticed is that all expressed their concerns and worries of losing their jobs once the new labor reform policy is implemented," Monterona added.
Monterona added it is expected that the plan will raise more questions and even opposition from the expat communities. "The 6-yr. work permit cap which the host govt. mulls will affect the more than half of the estimated 10-M expatriate workers in the oil-rich Kingdom," he averred.
Monterona noted that yesterday, an official of the Saudi's ministry of labor clarified that in implementing the 6-yr. work permit plan, there will be parameters set and thus not all expats will be affected defending on the status of the company where they worked.
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 Saudis.
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.
Monteorna 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 clarification issued by the Saudi ministry of labor 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.
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.