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Minimum salary for Filipino domestic helpers stays at $400: Labor Attache – Policy unchanged after Kuwait adopts KD 60 minimum wage

Philippine Labor Attache to Kuwait Cesar Chavez
Philippine Labor Attache to Kuwait Cesar Chavez

KUWAIT: The minimum salary for Filipino domestic helpers remains at $400 (about KD 120) and the policy has not changed even after the Kuwaiti government set a KD 60 minimum salary for domestic helpers in the country. “The new rules set the by the government are clear – employers cannot pay a salary lower than KD 60. The minimum wage was only KD 45 earlier,” Philippine Labor Attache to Kuwait Cesar Chavez clarified to Kuwait Times. “For Filipino household service workers, we have set the minimum salary as KD 110 to KD 120. If you want a Filipino household worker, you must pay the salary set by the Philippines government – which we implement not just in Kuwait but worldwide – or you are free to get a helper from elsewhere,” he explained.

Kuwait set a minimum wage for its hundreds of thousands of mostly Asian domestic workers in a first for Gulf states, which have come under widespread accusations of abuse. The decree was issued by Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah which set the minimum wage at KD 60 ($200) a month and also granted domestic staff a raft of other rights. The Philippine Embassy shelter houses around 300 runaway housemaids who suffered various forms of mistreatment and abuse, ranging from verbal and physical abuse to rape and murder attempts by employers.

“We are not violating any laws in Kuwait, because what is pegged in the decree is the minimum and not the maximum wage amount. This is what we want for our workers. Employers who need our workers from the Philippines are advised to heed our minimum salary condition, or they can hire other nationals who accept a KD 60 salary,” Chavez said.

Kuwait Times asked Chavez whether some employers will not pay the right amount to Filipino housemaids after this decree. “At the embassy, we can stop verifying contracts if they insist on paying our maids less than KD 110. We do not want to beg employers to hire our housemaids. Kuwait is an open market,” he reiterated.  There are an estimated 600,000 domestic helpers in Kuwait, of which about 140,000 are from the Philippines, out of the 220,000 Filipino population in Kuwait.
By Ben Garcia

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