June 23, 2018, 10:33 am
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PH, Kuwait resume talks on MOA for house helpers

THE Philippines and Kuwait will resume negotiations on the proposed memorandum of agreement (MOA) on household workers’ employment on March 15-16, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.

In a statement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said an eight-member Kuwaiti delegation will be meeting with its Philippine counterpart panel for the proposed “Agreement on Domestic Workers’ Recruitment, Employment, and Protection Between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the State of Kuwait.”

“We are looking forward to the conclusion of this bilateral agreement that we hope will be a model document in terms of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure the safety and well-being of our household service workers in Kuwait,” said Cayetano.

“President Duterte wants this agreement to be different from the other agreements we signed with other countries by making sure that whatever is written there will translate into real, actionable measures that will protect our kababayans from exploitation and abuse,” he said.

Migrante Philippines, an organization of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), belittled the reported provisions of the proposed labor agreement, saying it “will offer nothing new” in preventing the abuses and maltreatment of OFWs in Kuwait.

“What may seem as a set of benevolent agreement terms at first sight may yet be another insignificant piece of document,” said Migrante Philippines chairman Arman Hernando in a statement.

Migrante noted how the draft MOA is set to allow OFWs to keep their passports, allow OFWs to use their cell phones, require consent of OFWs or Philippine Overseas Labor Officials in cases of transfer of workers to another employer, prohibit employers with record of abuse from hiring OFWs, provide a minimum monthly salary of KD120 (P20,700) and rest hours of at least 8 hours per day, and limit work to only one household.

Migrante said the “Standard employment contract for Household Service Workers in the State of Kuwait” of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration already provides for the proposed terms.

Hernando said Law No. 68 of 2015 (Domestic Employment Law) of Kuwait already provides for assurance on the possession of important documents of OFWs including their passports, right of OFWs to communicate using cell phones, and for a prohibition on employer transfer against the will of the OFWs and without authorization from the government. 

Migrante called for justice to all the victims of abuse and maltreatment, and the recognition of household service workers in the Middle East.

Migrante also called for the de-privatization of the overseas employment program and for making OFW protection a full government responsibility.
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