Talks with Kuwait "going well" but no immediate lifting of ban yet: DFA
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) welcomed progress in negotiations for a bilateral labor agreement with Kuwait and said it hopes more pragmatic measures could be included so it could recommend its signing and lift a ban on the deployment of new workers.
“Our negotiations with Kuwait have so far been going well but we need to put in place more practical measures that would ensure the safety and welfare of our kababayans working there,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Sunday.
In a statement, Cayetano commended officials from the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for convincing their Kuwaiti counterparts to agree to the conditions laid down by President Rodrigo Duterte shortly after he declared a ban on the deployment of new workers to the Gulf state.
Cayetano said the negotiating panel led by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Ambassador Renato Villa were able to secure Kuwait’s commitment that would guarantee Filipino domestic workers a minimum monthly salary of 120 Kuwait Dinars, rest hours of at least eight hours per day; possession of their passports and mobile phones; and limiting their work to only one household.
“As we move forward in the negotiations, we hope to incorporate more practical measures that would better protect our countrymen working there from exploitation and abuse,” Cayetano said.
Among the measures Cayetano said he would want to see in the agreement would be payment of salaries direct to bank account of Filipino workers when feasible.
“This will ensure that our countrymen do not get shortchanged and will receive the salary they originally signed up for,” Cayetano added.
He said he wants to see an effective mechanism that would allow Filipino workers to file their complaints with Kuwaiti authorities.
Cayetano mentioned instances where employers try to preempt cases against them by filing false charges such as theft against their Filipino employees.
“We really must work with Kuwait to make sure we come up with an implementable agreement that would contain guarantees for the protection of our workers,” Cayetano said.
Officials from the DFA and DOLE led by Cayetano and Bello will be meeting on Monday to discuss issues and reforms that will favor overseas Filipino workers. DMS