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Kuwait and Philippines labour dispute resolved, new terms to be put in place
March 17, 2018, 2:28 pm
Kuwait and Philippines ink deal on domestic workers

Kuwait and the Philippines have reached an agreement by signing a draft deal to regulate the work of domestic helpers, said a Kuwaiti diplomat on Saturday. Foreign Ministry Undersecretary for Consulate Affairs Sami Al-Hamad told Kuwait News Agency that the deal, which was signed on Friday, came as a result of a meeting between a visiting Kuwaiti ministerial delegation and Filipino authorities in Manila.

The deal will ensure the rights of both employers and employees, said Al-Hamad who affirmed that the Kuwaiti side requested that the doors for labor recruitment would be re-opened for Kuwaiti agencies, especially the government-backed Al-Durra company.

Al-Hamad noted that those interested in employing domestic workers would be able to do so by paying reasonable fees.

He added that employers must ensure that their laborers would have the right to retain their passport, as well as the right of refusing transfer of their working visa to another employer.

A Filipino request to obtain any criminal records that employers might have was denied because Kuwaiti authorities would not allow anyone with a record to recruit labor, said the Foreign Ministry official. In January this year the Philippines had suspended sending workers to Kuwait, while it investigated the deaths and abuse of several Filipinos there.

Philippines Labour Secretary Silvestre Belo cited a higher number of troubling cases, saying six or seven were being investigated. There are more than 250,000 Filipinos working in Kuwait, according to the Philippines foreign ministry. Almost 170,000 are employed as maids or domestic helpers.

They are among over 2.3 million Filipinos documented as working abroad. Other common destinations include the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Many of those working overseas send their salaries home to the Philippines, with an estimated KD 600 million ($2bn) making it back every month. These remittances are viewed as a core component of the country's burgeoning economy.

Kuwait declared a one month grace period for expatriates in January to resolve their residency status without payment of hefty fines and forced deportation. The grace period was further extended for another two months until April 22 in a bid to solve the residency issues of more than 100,000 expatriates. To date 45,000 have benefitted from the ministerial decision.


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