Recent discussions held between Kuwait and the Philippines, which saw the participation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Public Authority for Manpower, and a visiting Philippine delegation, have not yielded positive results in resolving the issues surrounding the ban on sending domestic workers, reported Al-Jarida Daily.
Despite initial progress and a friendly atmosphere, the talks hit a roadblock when the Philippine side insisted on the continued operation of embassy shelters, a request that was deemed illegal by Kuwait. Bassam Al-Shammari, a specialist in domestic worker affairs, expressed his disappointment at the lack of positive outcomes from the negotiations.
He revealed that the Philippines plans to invite Kuwait for an official visit to Manila in an attempt to resume bilateral discussions. However, Kuwait remains firm on its position regarding the closure of the shelters as a precondition to considering the lifting of the ban on Filipino workers.
If the Philippine side continues to insist on the operation of these shelters, the negotiations could fail and the situation may revert to square one. The moratorium decisions issued by both countries earlier remain in effect. During the negotiations, the Philippine side raised concerns over the functioning of expatriate worker shelter centers affiliated with the “Manpower Force,” including issues like workers remaining absent for months without returning to Manila and the lack of a clear mechanism for ensuring workers’ financial rights.
These concerns have been cited as justifications for the Philippines’ stance on retaining the shelters and withholding the release of workers. Al-Shammari stressed the need for Kuwait to sign more memorandums of understanding with labor-exporting countries such as Nepal, Indonesia, and Ethiopia, rather than relying on just a few countries.
He emphasized that having a diverse pool of labor-exporting countries would help reduce recruitment costs and facilitate the hiring of domestic workers, especially as the holy month of Ramadan approaches and the demand for their services increases. The ban on visas for the Filipino community in Kuwait was imposed in May last year due to a number of violations observed by the Public Authority for Manpower.
These violations included housing workers in private homes or unauthorized accommodation centers, workers in violation of residency laws, and reports of worker absenteeism. The decision also noted instances where domestic worker recruitment offices intervened in the withdrawal of workers from citizens’ homes under the pretense of contract completion, which is against laws and regulations. The Philippine embassy faced criticism for pressuring employers to comply with contractual clauses they did not desire and for inappropriate treatment of citizens when visiting the embassy.