The number of Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Qatar has been decreasing since last year, partly because of the Philippine government’s imposition of a $400 minimum wage for Filipina housemaids, ambassador Crescente Relacion told Gulf Times.
He said the move had also affected other categories of OFWs who wanted to work in the country, noting a reduction in the number of visas available for applicants in the Philippines and those who were seeking employment locally.
While hundreds of Filipinos want to work in Qatar, many have failed to make it apparently because no visas are available for them. Some job seekers said this was also the reason cited by employers who wanted to hire Filipinos.
“A company wanted to hire us but its HR department said there were no visas available for Filipinos right now,” said a job applicant. But some others disputed this, claiming that their company had visas for them. “We are not sure if it is about our qualifications and credentials.”
The number of Filipina housemaids has remained stagnant, said Relacion, adding that many had returned to the Philippines for good. But this group of workers still constitutes the biggest number of Filipino expatriates in Qatar, according to figures given by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in Manila .
In an e-mail to Gulf Times, POEA, a government agency, said that as per its record, there were about 18,018 documented housemaids in Qatar (2012 data), which was 38.3% of the total 47,078 OFWs registered with it.
The agency was quick to clarify that their figure was lower than the embassy’s figure which showed that there were about 190,000 Filipinos in Qatar. It did not explain except pointing out that the 47,078 (mostly directly hired by Qatari companies) Filipinos went through proper process of documentation before leaving the Philippines.
“POEA has approved their job orders. They have also secured E-receipt or Overseas Employment Certificates (OEC) before leaving for Qatar,” the government agency noted.
But its figure did not include Filipinos who arrived in Qatar on family visit and visit visas and were able to find jobs here.
Citing the data given by an “informed source”, Relacion disclosed that only about 185,000 to 190,000 Filipinos worked in Qatar. He described the Commission on Filipino Overseas’ estimate of 320,000 as “bloated”. “It is safe to say that we are close to 200,000,” he stressed.
This figure covers those who eventually acquired permanent working visas and OFWs who are married to some expatriates.
After housemaids, the second largest group on the POEA list were 2,099 waiters, bartenders and others with similar jobs (4.5%) followed by plumbers and pipe fitters which totalled 1,835 (3.9%). Filipino nurses are on the ninth position with 618 (1.3%) working in private and government-owned hospitals, including those at the Hamad Medical Corporation. The actual figures of Filipino nurses in the country is much higher and their number is expected to increase
in the coming months, it is learnt.
The rest of the categories recorded by POEA included workers and cleaners (1,666), wiremen and electrical technicians (1,616), carpenters, joiners and parquetry workers (1,198), bricklayers, stonemasons and tile setters (969), labourers and helpers (788) and supervisors, production and general foremen (584).
The number of Filipino civil engineers alone could reach 1,700, said Rico Del Rosa, an engineer himself.
The Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Qatar is urging all Filipino expatriates who were hired locally to register at their office for proper documentation.
“As a registered member, they will be entitled to various benefits under the reintegration programme of the government such as livelihood, scholarship and education of their children,” said labour attache Leopoldo De
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