Sunday, August 23, 2009

Not So Many Jobs Awaits OFWs in Dubai

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo recently went to Dubai in United Arab Emirates (UAE) to look for investment and employment opportunities for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who lost their jobs as an effect of the global financial crisis.

In lieu with this, a recruitment industry consultant said that Filipinos should not set their hopes too high. Emmanuel Geslani, a former vice chair and three-term director of the Philippine Association of Service Exporters Inc. (PASEI), warned that the status of Dubai as a city teeming with opportunities for everyone is gone. Nowadays, many foreign workers in Dubai are unemployed and are realizing that UAE impose strict debt, immigration and labor policies.

President Arroyo went to Dubai to attend a job summit. A MalacaƱang statement said, “The Middle East Forum aims to bring together key players—employers, manpower providers, officials of the Philippines and Gulf Cooperating Countries—to discuss how the Philippines can fill up large-scale job orders in the region within the year.”

MalacaƱang described the UAE as the workplace of choice of Filipino workers in the Middle East, next only to Saudi Arabia. They also cited data that 304,241 documented and 35,040 undocumented OFWs are currently working in UAE.

However, according to Geslani, even if the President is going to Dubai to talk with possible employers of OFWs, it still doesn’t mean that there are many jobs available for them there. He reminds aspiring workers in Dubai to ensure that their employers would grant them a working visa or permit upon arriving in Dubai.

In a phone interview by Philippine Daily Inquirer, Geslani said, “My advice to [Filipinos] is: Don’t go there for nothing so you will not suffer.”

He reminds aspiring workers in Dubai to ensure that their employers would grant them a working visa or permit upon arriving in Dubai.

Geslani said: “Ms Arroyo may just be wasting taxpayer money by flying all the way to Dubai as she may find countless half-built buildings with their cranes motionless, empty malls and starving Filipinos who have lost their jobs.”

There is a case of 120 Filipinos holding only visitor visas but were hired to work in UAE. Unfortunately, they were terminated before they can secure work visas. Other unemployed Filipinos in Dubai discover the cost of living there so high that they run out of money and were forced to seek shelter at the Philippine Embassy.

Citing a report from the regional recruitment industry, Geslani informed that UAE’s white-collar sector cancels about 1,500 to 2,000 visas daily.

A number of construction companies had for the time being stopped the operation of their projects worth more than USD 500 billion and had displaced over 40,000 employees from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Geslani said that the number of displaced workers in UAE are expected to increase in the next months as the UAE Labor Ministry have been getting thousands of complaints from expatriate workers regarding unpaid salaries and termination without payment of salaries.

Geslani said, “Expatriates who lose their jobs in Dubai or other Gulf countries have to quickly pack up and leave as employers are supposed to notify the banks of terminations so the banks can demand repayment of loans owed by terminated employees.”

Displaced workers in UAE are given a period of two to three months to look for another job but this will not be so easy as most companies have stopped recruitment.

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