The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Friday strongly denied there is an ongoing massive retrenchment of foreign workers in the Middle East due to plunging oil prices.
The denial was issued a day after the DOLE issued a statement saying that Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz has ordered all the heads of the 20 Assist Well (welfare, employment, legal, and livelihood) program centers to further improve and provide comprehensive services to the concerned overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
The Federation of Free Workers (FFW), however, insisted that more than one million OFWs could be displaced anytime soon.
Jose Sonny Matula, FFW president, told The Manila Times that an OFW who is also an FFW organizer in the Middle East disclosed on Friday through a private message that all ambassadors in Philippine embassies and DOLE personnel in the Middle East are busy preparing contingency plans to assist the OFWs who stand to lose their jobs.
Matula, who is also a veteran labor lawyer, refused to divulge the name of the FFW organizer for security reasons. The FFW chief said he consulted with their members in the Middle East. He said one FFW organizer informed him that Qatar Petroleum has dismissed more than 3,000 employees of different nationalities. Another company, he was told, has dismissed all its employees.
Matula’s disclosure validated The Manila Times story the other day that a massive displacement of OFWs may happen in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Last week, about 10,000 OFWs were reported to have been laid off by various companies.
This week, Baldoz said the DOLE is bracing for the return of about 7,000 OFWs who had been overstaying in South Korea since 2015.
Baldoz said DOLE is hoping that more than 450 workers will be hired by South Korea in April in line with the continuous implementation of the Employment Permit System (EPS) between the governments in Seoul and Manila.