Negotiations with Kuwait Going Well but PH Won’t Lift Ban Unless More Pragmatic Measures to Protect OFWs are Included in Pact
11 March 2018 — The Department of Foreign Affairs today welcomed the progress being made in negotiations for a bilateral labor agreement with Kuwait and said it hopes 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.

“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 S. Cayetano said.

In a statement, Secretary 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 Duterte shortly after he declared a ban on the deployment of new workers to the Gulf state.

The Secretary 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 KD120.00; 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 kababayans 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 kababayans 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.

He mentioned instances where employers try to preempt cases against them by filing false charges such as theft against their Filipino employees.

Citing previous labor agreements with other countries that were entered into by the Philippines but could not be effectively implemented, Secretary Cayetano said he wants the agreement with Kuwait to be implementable.

“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,” Secretary Cayetano said.

Officials from the DFA and DOLE led by Secretaries Cayetano and Bello will be meeting on Monday to discuss issues and reforms that will favor overseas Filipino workers. END