Filipino jobs are safe, official says

Filipino workers are staying put, with the number of job opportunities relatively unaffected by the recession, a labour chief says.

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DUBAI // While other expatriates are heading home because of redundancies, overseas Filipino workers are staying put, the Philippines' labour secretary said. "We are not losing jobs," Marianito Roque said. "I don't see any mass exodus of Filipinos here." Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a Filipino celebration of Migrant Workers Day in Dubai recedtly, the visiting labour chief said: "We are no longer talking about unemployment, but about Filipinos who are being asked to return to their jobs since being laid off last October."

And in other parts of the world, such as Taiwan, almost half the Filipino workers who had been made redundant since October were back at work, he said. "We are the more reasonably priced sector," he argued. "Compare the salary of a British engineer with that of a Filipino engineer." He acknowledged Filipinos in the Emirates had not been immune to redundancies. But while some people in Dubai had been affected by the global financial crisis, they were able to transfer to Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

He said the number of job opportunities for Filipinos was growing in the Middle East. At a job summit in Dubai in April, the Philippine government generated 221,000 jobs for Filipinos in the region. Of those jobs, 39,128 are in the Emirates. Mr Roque said his government was exploring new markets in countries that are "non-traditional destinations" for overseas Filipino workers. "But we are not forcing our people to work abroad," he said.

ruiz@thenational.ae