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Recruitment agency refuses to give in to setback over Philippines ban on workers
March 3, 2018, 5:36 pm

The ban on the deployment of Filipino workers imposed by the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte caused an uproar among recruitment agencies that deploy workers from Philippines and Filipino workers bound for Kuwait on new contracts. Kuwait, which kept its composure over the issues and the Philippine President's impulsive actions, has seen mixed reactions over the issue. The Times spoke to Ahmad Al Mutawa, General Manager of a newly opened recruitment agency Jeem International Trading Company on the issues and how the company will survive the negative effect of the ban.

Ahmad Al Mutawa, General Manager of Jeem International Trading Company

The Times: Recruitment business is a tough sector to engage it, why did you choose to open one?

Al Mutawa: Kuwait has moved to the service business for the past 20 years and there is a high demand for services from the expat community. Every nationality brings something new to the country be it cultural or traditional, and it keeps most of the businesses in this sector afloat.

The Times: How competitive are you as compared to other recruitment companies?

Al Mutawa: This business is a cut-throat sector, competition is stiff but if you get top-notch employees and employers, you will be in demand. Opening this business is not easy as Kuwait is a bureaucratic country and paperwork is horrendous, but doable. The main factor is the lengthy processes involved in deploying the employees in Kuwait, but at the end, you reap the fruits of your labour.

The Times: How does the ban affect your operations?

Al Mutawa: It puts things on hold and we are hoping it is not going to be permanent, it’s a minor setback as we do have alternative routes to keep our business afloat. But again, we work on two major nationalities and their deployment can be beneficial for us. I’m hoping situations will get better.

The Times: Your personal opinion on the issue of banning of Filipino workers deployment in Kuwait?

Al Mutawa: I believe that the Philippine President has his heart in the right place and these concerns need to be addressed. What happened did happen and it caused a positive effect. The next step is to work at the ground level and improve things to prevent such incidences from happening again. We have full confidence on a good relationship between both countries and I’m am sure they will be able to work something out to address these concerns.

The Times: What suggestions can you offer to Kuwaitis who are interested in engaging in a similar business?

Al Mutawa: Take baby steps and slowly work on it. Have a good team including back offices, even small businesses rely on good staff. Having been a member of staff myself, empathy for your staff is essential, you keep them happy and they become productive.

With the current ban of deployment for Filipino workers in Kuwait, many of these agencies have cut down staff and some have received half month salary while they wait for the promised lift of ban upon signing of the Memorandum of Understanding that will provide more protection for the Filipino workers in Kuwait. There is also an estimate of 5,000 to 8,000 Filipinos bound for Kuwait who now rally against the Philippine President and accuse him of denying them opportunities to give their families a better future, but for some, it’s justified to avoid further maltreatment on Filipino workers. However, some Filipino community leaders in Kuwait call the Philippine President action as impulsive and failed to consult concerned agencies prior to imposing the ban, thereby causing diplomatic tension between both countries and uproar among Filipinos affected by the ban. Kuwait has agreed to send a delegation to the Philippines to discuss further details on the issue of MOU.

Ricky Laxa
Staff Writer
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