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Kuwait ‘agrees’ to conditions to lift ban on Filipinos

KUWAIT: Kuwait and the Philippines have made progress in negotiations for a bilateral labor agreement, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement yesterday, hoping that more pragmatic measures could be included so that it could recommend its signing and the lifting of the ban on the deployment of new workers.

According to the statement, Kuwaiti authorities have reportedly agreed to the conditions laid down by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte shortly after he declared a ban on the deployment of new workers to Kuwait. The negotiating panel led by Philippine 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 KD 120; rest hours of at least eight hours per day; possession of their passports and mobile phones; and limiting their work to only one household.

“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 [compatriots] working there,” Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S Cayetano said. Cayetano also commended officials from the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for convincing their Kuwaiti counterparts to Duterte’s conditions.

“As we move forward in the negotiations, we hope to incorporate more practical measures that would better protect [Filipinos] working there from exploitation and abuse,” Secretary Cayetano said. Among the measures Secretary Cayetano said he would want to see in the agreement would be payment of salaries direct to the bank account of Filipino workers whenever feasible. “This will ensure that our citizens do not get shortchanged and will receive the salary they originally signed up for,” Secretary Cayetano added. The secretary said he also wants to see an effective mechanism that would allow Filipino workers to file their complaints directly with Kuwaiti authorities.

By A Saleh

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