PH reopens labor negotiations with Kuwait
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.
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.
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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