PH, Kuwait sign deal for better OFW working conditions
The Philippines and Kuwait have signed a landmark memorandum of agreement aimed at ensuring better working conditions for Filipino workers in the Gulf state.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Sheikh Khaled Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, signed the deal on Friday in Kuwait.
Cayetano, along with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque and Special Envoy to Kuwait Abdullah Mamao, led the Philippine delegation.
The eight-page document, titled “Agreement on Employment of Domestic Workers between the Government of the State of Kuwait and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines,” consists of six articles covering, among others, areas of cooperation, responsibilities of both nations and settlement of disputes.
Valid for 4 years
The agreement will be in force for four years and can be renewed automatically, unless either party informs the other through diplomatic channels of its desire to terminate it six months prior to the end of its validity.
The deal provides for the creation of a joint committee, composed of senior officials from both governments, that will follow up on the implementation of the agreement through annual meetings, and make recommendations to resolve issues on the Filipino workers’ employment.
The Kuwaiti government will ensure that the employer shall provide the worker with food, housing and clothing, and register the worker in the state’s health insurance system.
Under the agreement, the employer will not be allowed to keep the worker’s passport.
Workers will be allowed to keep and use cell phones and other means of communication with their families and government. Employers are prohibited from confiscating these.
Employers who have records of contract violations or of abusing workers will be disqualified from recruiting Filipino domestic workers.
Worker’s bank account
The employer is also required to open a bank account under the name of the worker and to allow the worker to remit wages to the Philippines as provided for in the employment contract.
The Kuwaiti government will facilitate the repatriation of domestic workers upon the contract’s completion, or violation of the labor contract, and will provide legal assistance to workers concerning violations of the labor contract or existing laws on domestic workers.
The Kuwaiti government will also strictly enforce the agreed wage in the contract and minimum age requirement, as well as establish a mechanism for 24-hour assistance to Filipino domestic helpers.
For its part, the Philippine government will, among other duties, ensure that prospective workers are well trained in housework and have received orientation on Kuwaiti laws, customs and traditions, and the terms and conditions of the employment contract.
The Philippines will also ensure that the recruitment of domestic workers shall be through licensed recruitment agencies.
It will also ensure the access of domestic workers to legal assistance from concerned offices in Kuwait, and impose sanctions on Philippine recruiters that commit recruitment violations. —JULIE M. AURELIO
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