Domestic worker agencies have confirmed to Doha News that the unofficial ban on new visas for Filipina maids continues, despite a denial from the Philippines’ Ambassador to Qatar yesterday.
Early this year, a diplomatic tussle between the Philippines and Qatari governments about a minimum wage requirement of $400 (QR 1500) per month led to an unofficial ban on new Filipina maid visas.
However, Philippines Ambassador Crescent R Relacion told Peninsula over the weekend:
“There is no ban. It’s the decision of Qatar to hire other nationalities. They are still hiring Filipino domestic workers but in a very limited number.”
Despite this statement, several manpower agencies told Doha News today that they are still unable to obtain visas for new domestic worker hires from the Philippines.
In an attempt to clarify the situation, Doha News spoke to Leopoldo De Jesus, the Philippines’ Labor Attaché in Qatar.
He also told us that there was “no ban”, but when questioned about the experiences of manpower agencies, De Jesus told us that it is “possible to go to the Qatari government’s visa committee” to ask for a visa, suggesting that visas are currently only being granted as exceptions, rather than the rule.
No formal announcement has ever been made about the ban from either the Qatari or Philippines governments.
However, a resolution to the situation may be on the horizon. Ambassador Relacion has said that a delegation from the Philippine Labor Department has been invited by the Qatari government to come to Doha next month for talks. It’s the second time the two parties have met, and Relacion is hinting that the “unofficial ban” will be on the agenda.
There are more than 40,000 Filipina maids in Qatar, and according to the standard contract, they should be paid some $400 (QR1460) a month, although their actual average pay in Qatar is thought to be around $247 (QR900).
As more countries with large domestic worker populations here step up efforts to protect their citizens, Qatar has been looking to hire maids from other poor nations, including Bosnia, Macedonia, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Credit: Photo by Mink