Talks on labor accord with Kuwait ‘going well’ but ban remains: DFA

MANILA -- The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Sunday said negotiations for a bilateral labor agreement with Kuwait are going well but stressed that the deployment ban remains unless "more pragmatic measures" could be included in the pact.

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 Cayetano said in a statement.

Cayetano lauded 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 Rodrigo Duterte shortly after he declared the ban on the deployment of new workers to the Gulf state.

The official said the negotiating panel, led by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Ambassador Renato Villa, was able to secure Kuwait's commitment that would guarantee Filipino domestic workers a minimum monthly salary of 120 Kuwaiti dinars or PHP20,700; 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 kababayansworking there from exploitation and abuse, he added.

Among the measures, Cayetano said he wants to see in the agreement that the payment of salaries would be 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, he said.

Cayetano also said he 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, Cayetano said the agreement with Kuwait should 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, he ended.

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

Source: Philippine News Agency