By Roy Mabasa
Negotiations between the Philippines and Kuwait that would provide strong guarantees on the safety and welfare of Filipino household service workers is scheduled to resume in Manila this week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Tuesday.
The DFA said an eight-member Kuwaiti delegation will travel for negotiations on 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” on March 15-16.
“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,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said.
Cayetano stressed that the Philippine government should go beyond the usual in the negotiations with Kuwait, noting that bilateral labor agreements Manila had previously entered into with other countries look good on paper but could not be effectively implemented.
He said President Duterte wants the agreement to be different from the other agreements that the Philippines 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.
Cayetano said the Philippines was earlier able to secure the commitment of Kuwait on several matters, including the minimum monthly salary of Kuwaiti Dinar (KD)120 (about P20,800); rest hours of at least eight hours per day; possession of their passports and mobile phones; and limiting their work to only one household.
The foreign affairs chief and Laborand Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier met with foreign affairs and labor officials involved in the negotiations at the Manila Hotel during which Cayetano underscored the need to include more practical measures to make the proposed agreement more implementable.
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 domestic workers whenever feasible and a mechanism that would allow them to file their complaints directly with Kuwaiti authorities.