(Eagle News)–The Department of Foreign Affairs has welcomed Saudi Arabia’s initiative to abolish the Kafala system.
The DFA also acknowledged “recent developments in Qatar as the first country in the Arab Gulf region to allow all migrant workers to change jobs before the end of their contracts without first obtaining their employer’s consent.”
The DFA said under Saudi’s “New Labor Initiative,” foreign workers are allowed to change jobs before the end of their contracts by transferring their sponsorship from one employer to the other.
This will allow them to leave and re-enter the country, and secure exit visas without the consent of their employer.
The Kafala system has led to abuse by some employers, who would exploit foreign workers and take away their passports to prevent them from leaving.
According to the DFA, the Philippines has long been advocating against the system in the United Nations and in other international fora.
In fact, it officially partnered with Bahrain, one of the first countries to abolish the system, through Head of the Labor Market Regulatory Authority Ausamah Al-Absi, in its labor reform movement through the Flexi Visa System.
The system now allows undocumented or irregular workers to acquire regular immigration status without an employer sponsor.
The department said the Philippines also pioneered the negotiation and international adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration to “protect all Filipino migrant workers against all forms of exploitation and abuse, and guarantee decent work.”
The DFA said this was consistent with the President’s directive.
As of December 2019, there are 865,121 Filipino migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.