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PH reopens labor negotiations with Kuwait

/ 01:52 AM February 03, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has reopened negotiations with Kuwait to improve the employment contracts of around 150,000 Filipino domestic helpers, amid a total deployment ban and yet another murder of a Filipino maid by her employers.

Bello arrived in Kuwait on Feb. 1 with Labor Undersecretary Claro Arellano, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration chief Bernard Olalia and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration chief Hans Leo Cacdac, according to the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait.

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Chargé d’Affaires Mohammed Noordin Lomondot said they comprise the Philippine panel to the joint committee meeting on the implementation of the 2018 Philippine-Kuwait agreement on the deployment of domestic workers.

Both sides agreed to convene a joint committee meeting after the Philippine government imposed a total ban on Jan. 15 on the deployment of all new workers, not only domestic helpers, to the Gulf state.

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Bello had said the ban was prompted by Kuwait’s cover-up of the sexual abuse and extensive beatings suffered by 26-year-old Jeanelyn Villavende from South Cotabato, who was killed by her employers in late December.

In Kuwait, Bello told the media that both sides will craft a standard employment contract for domestic helpers, which was provided under the bilateral labor agreement signed in May 2018 during a diplomatic crisis spurred by the murder of Filipino domestic helper Joanna Demafelis by her Syrian-Lebanese employers.

The standard contract should allow the domestic helper to keep her passport and mobile phones, specify work hours, allow at least one paid day off a week and prohibit transfer to another employer without consent.

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TAGS: labor negotiations, OFWs in Kuwait, PH-Kuwait relations, Silvestre Bello III
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