Philippines stands firm on suspension of domestic workers to Kuwait
Kuwait is engaged in strenuous attempts and endeavors to break the deadlock with the Philippines through negotiations to restore the flow of domestic workers following the decision issued by the Philippines’ authorities to stop sending them temporarily following the incident of rape and murder of a Filipina domestic worker and then the burning of her corpse, all at the hands of a Kuwaiti teenager, reports Al-Seyassah daily.
Filipino diplomatic sources affirmed that, “Manila has requested to set a date for the meeting of the joint committee between the two countries, which will be at the ministerial or deputy ministerial level. The date for its convening has not yet been determined, but it will be soon.”
Meanwhile, the Manila Standard newspaper quoted a Filipino government source as saying, “The intransigence in stopping the export of workers resulted mainly from the exposure of at least two workers to some form of physical or sexual violence in Kuwait on a daily basis.”
The source said, “Any worker who reports her exposure to violence is excluded from the labor market, and her passport is withheld by the sponsor. One assault incident per day is a very huge number by international standards, so what about if there are two?
The current administration took the measure of the temporary suspension of the travel of domestic workers to Kuwait after the recent crime, which was preceded by the incident of finding the body of a Filipina in a deep freezer inside an apartment that was rented to an expatriate family who left the country before the crime was revealed.
Despite the source’s admission that the decision to suspend will have negative effects on about 200,000 Filipina workers in Kuwait, he suggested conducting psychological tests for those wishing to bring in domestic workers from the Philippines.
The source explained that the Ministry of Foreign Employment has collected several data and numbers from shelter centers for Filipinas who fled from their employers, including details about the assaults they were subjected to and the violation of labor contracts and others. A report will be made on this information and submitted to the concerned committee in the Philippine Parliament. It will have a great influence in the scheduled negotiations about the export of workers to Kuwait.
In the same context, the newspaper quoted a member of the Philippine Congress and Head of the Labor Committee Rufi Tolfo as saying, “Most of the problems of Filipino workers in Kuwait are due to the agreement signed in this regard.”
He affirmed that the memorandum of understanding signed in 2018 insisted on the right of Filipino workers to keep their passports and phones, their food security and a suitable housing for them along with their right to obtain health insurance, but the violations and numbers suggest otherwise.
The newspaper published detailed statistics showing that 823 Filipinas were subjected to physical assaults in Kuwait last year, 99 were sexually harassed, and 26 were raped. Also, there were reports of the seizure of 2,218 passports, and the termination of employment contracts for 8,755 workers.
On the other hand, diplomatic sources affirmed that the joint committee between the two countries, which is expected to meet soon, will discuss all files, including domestic workers.
They indicated that the export of workers has been postponed until sufficient guarantees are provided.
In the same context, Head of the Union of Domestic Labor Offices Khaled Al-Dakhnan said the union’s meetings with the Philippine Labor Union have reached a dead end, as four meetings have been held so far to reach a solution to the problem, but the Philippine side insists that the solution be through governments.
Al-Dakhnan said, “Government agencies must intervene immediately and search for solutions to end the crisis, because we rely heavily on Filipino domestic workers. Sri Lankan workers are currently being recruited but only in small, negligible numbers, after the ban on Filipino workers.”
He called on the government agencies to open visas for domestic workers from African countries, explaining that employment from these countries is considered good, especially since neighboring countries recruit them.
He said issuance of visas are suspended for African domestic workers for reasons unknown, and the suspension must be lifted, and dealt with by the domestic labor offices with the concerned authorities in these countries.