KUWAIT CITY, Feb 4: The issue on moratorium on the deployment of Filipino household service workers (HSWs) to Kuwait generated varied reactions from the Filipino community, representative and owners of manpower recruitment agencies in Kuwait as they all wait for the decision of the Philippine government on the matter.
With the recent hanging of Jakatia Pawa and the death of Amy Capulong, a housemaid who was allegedly beaten to death by her employer, the call for a temporary suspension on the deployment of Filipino HSWs continues to mount. “Our government should stop sending domestic helpers to Kuwait so that they will realise the importance of Filipino housemaids who have been serving them and should be treated humanely. We’re appealing to President Duterte to act on this now,” stated, Melissa Mendez Cinco, owner of Bahay Kubo Restaurant. For Filipinos who have been in Kuwait for years now, they also joined various OFW advocacy groups in their call for a moratorium.
“I’ve been in Kuwait for more than 20 years now and I have seen various forms of abuses committed by employers against our fellow Filipinos who are working at home. It’s about time that our government demands protection for all our workers,” stated Rachel Reyes. On the other hand, representatives and owners of manpower recruitment agencies in Kuwait strongly opposed the imposition of moratorium.
“Moratorium is not the solution to the problem because if this is implemented and if the Kuwait government strikes back then this might also affect our skilled workers besides not all employers are bad, not all Kuwaitis are bad. Just like in any other country, there are good and bad. Take my case, I used to be housemaid but I was lucky to have a good employer who released me and with God’s grace, I worked hard and improved my economic status in life,” stated Mariam Macapudi who is in the manpower recruitment business.
Early this week, a news item was published on some dailies that cited Kuwait’s take on moratorium with some security sources saying that Kuwait will not be affected should the Philippine government implement the moratorium. “I think the moratorium of sending Filipina domestic helpers to Kuwait will affect Kuwait on a large scale cause Philippine domestic workers are number one in Kuwait. Also, this moratorium will affect financially the lives of thousands of families and family members in the Philippines. We hope that the government of the Philippines won’t stop sending domestic helpers to Kuwait,” said Basem Al Ali of Ayed Mohammad al Shammari Recruitment Agency.
He added that people should look at the bigger picture, highlighting the excellent bilateral relations and trade ties between Kuwait and the Philippines. In 2015, the Kuwait National Assembly passed the Domestic Labor Law which has yet to be fully implemented, though some steps have been taken to date by the Kuwait government to promote the rights and protection of domestic workers. The law grants around 600,000 domestic helpers in Kuwait, most of them Asian women, a 12-hour working day, a day off once a week, and 30 days annual leave.
It also obliges employers to open a bank account for maids and transfer their wages to the account to resolve the problem of delays or non-payment of salaries and other provisions. Former Philippine Labour Attache to Kuwait Atty Cesar Chavez Jr who was tasked by Philippine Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III to look into the plight of the stranded distressed HSWs met this week with the officials at the Office of Domestic Workers Affairs (ODWA) to discuss measures on how to expedite the repatriation of distressed OFWs to the Philippines.
“The general manager told me, they are strictly implementing the new domestic workers law, that they have already closed down around 40 recruitment agencies and there are more under suspension and they are really determined to protect the rights of domestic workers not only Filipinos but also other nationalities,” stated Chavez. He disclosed that some 32 distressed OFWs were repatriated on Thursday while around 150 more are set to fly next week in coordination with ODWA and the Kuwait Ministry of Interior. Meanwhile, the Filipino Association of Secretaries of Employment Agencies in Kuwait (FILASEAK) called on the Philippine government and the host government to hold bilateral talks on the issue.
By Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff