DOLE awaits formal signing of deal on welfare of OFWs in Kuwait

MANILA The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is now preparing for the formal signing of an agreement with Kuwait which will ensure protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), particularly household service workers (HSWs).

With this, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the signing may take place early next month, but admitted they have yet to determine the venue.

The formal signing of the agreement will soon be conducted after the conclusion of formal talks between a top level delegation of Kuwaiti officials and their Philippine counterparts in Manila last week.

The proposed pact includes provisions on the deployment, employment and treatment of Filipino workers while staying in Kuwait.

Kuwaiti officials, led by Ambassador Ganhim Saqer Ali Shaheen Al Ganhim, arrived last March 15 to negotiate the terms of the agreement weeks after the government imposed a total ban on deployment of workers to the Arab state over reports of rampant abuses and the death of Joana Demafelis whose body was found in a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait City in February.

On the other hand, the Philippine panel was headed by Labor Undersecretary Claro Arellano, Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Administrator Bernard Olalia of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa.

Among the major provisions of the agreement include the prohibition of the surrender of Filipino passport to Kuwaiti employers, the binding effect of the Philippine-crafted employment contract, the guaranteed payment of minimum monthly net pay of USD400 paid through the bank, and non-confiscation of mobile phones and other communication gadgets.

Bello admitted that the talks were intense on some critical concerns and hit a snag on the last day on the issue of contract and passport.

There was an impasse on two critical concerns as the talks were about to conclude. But we saw a breakthrough in early evening, and the Kuwaiti panel finally gave in at the last minute, he added.

The DOLE chief said the talks were a success, noting that its formal signing would not automatically result to the lifting of the government deployment ban. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency