Kuwait labor delegation due in Manila

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MANILA, March 14, (Agencies): The Philippines is looking to put at rest the dispute with Kuwait on the employment of Filipinos which took a turn to the worse after the body of a 29-yearold Filipino maid was found in the freezer of a Kuwait apartment more than a year after her employers had left the country, according to the standard. com.ph. Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said an eight-member Kuwaiti delegation will be in Manila on March 15 and 16 to resume negotiations which may culminate in the final labor agreement that will provide strong guarantees on the safety and welfare of Filipino domestic workers.

Cayetano was speaking after he met the Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III at the Manila Hotel with foreign affairs and labor officials who are also involved in the negotiations. In the meantime, the interaksyon.com said the eight-member Kuwaiti delegation to the Philippines for the proposed ‘Agreement on Domestic Workers’ Recruitment, Employment, and Protection between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the State of Kuwait’ will be led by Kuwaiti Ambassador Ghanim Saqer Al-Ghanim and Assistant Minister for Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Other members of the Kuwaiti panel are from the Residence Affairs Department of the Ministry of Interior and the Public Authority for Manpower affiliated to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. During the meeting at the Manila Hotel, Cayetano reiterated to the members of the negotiating panel the need to include more practical measures to make the proposed agreement more implementable.

Cayetano went on to say, “We are looking forward to the conclusion of this bilateral agreement that we hope will be a model document in terms of providing necessary guarantees to ensure the safety and well-being of our household service workers in Kuwait.”

Cayetano also said the Philippines must go beyond the usual approach in the negotiations with Kuwait since the bilateral labor agreements Manila had earlier signed with other countries looked good on paper but seldom implemented effectively. He disclosed, “President Duterte wants this agreement to be different from the other agreements we signed with other countries by making sure that whatever is written there will translate into real, actionable measures that will protect our ‘kababayans’ from exploitation and abuse.”

The Philippines was able to secure earlier the commitment of Kuwait on several issues, including the minimum monthly salary of KD 120 (about PHP 20,800); rest hours of at least eight hours per day; permission for the workers to keep their passports and mobile phones with them and limiting their work to only one household.

This is in addition to the payment of salaries direct to the bank account of Filipino domestic workers whenever feasible to ensure “our countrymen do not get shortchanged and will receive the salary they originally signed up for’ and a mechanism that would allow them to file their complaints directly with the Kuwaiti authorities, he added. Cayetano said these measures should be in place before the DFA and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) would recommend the lifting of the labor deployment ban that the President declared early this year in the wake of the reported widespread abuses of Filipino domestic workers.

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