Philippines, Kuwait draft labour protection agreement, ban remains

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The Philippines and Kuwait agreed on a draft migrant labour protection pact March 16, Manila’s labour secretary said, after talks set off by maid abuses, one apparent murder and workers’ suicides in the oil-rich Arab nation.

A ban on sending Filipinos to work in Kuwait will remain in place, Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a phone interview after the sides engaged in two days of talks resolved their last remaining issues over dinner.

President Rodrigo Duterte has said the ban won’t be lifted unless Filipinos get better protection in Kuwait and justice is served for the Filipina woman, Joana Demafelis, whose death sparked outrage in the Philippines because of its grim circumstances. Bello said earlier that even if a pact was reached Duterte wanted to see justice served in her case before lifting the ban.

Bello said the pact would be signed at an agreed time and venue in the near future. The last issues to be settled involved the work contracts and the handling of passports of Filipinos in Kuwait, where more than 260,000 Filipinos work, many of them as housemaids.

Philippine officials have demanded that housemaids be allowed to hold their passports and cellphones, which is normal for skilled workers like teachers and office workers. But many Kuwaiti employers have seized the phones and legal papers, which Bello said prevented maids from rapidly seeking help when they were abused. Philippine officials have also sought a minimum monthly wage of at least $400 for housemaids.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Philippines and Kuwait agreed on a draft migrant labour protection pact March 16, Manila’s labour secretary said, after talks set off by maid abuses, one apparent murder and workers’ suicides in the oil-rich Arab nation.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Philippines and Kuwait agreed on a draft migrant labour protection pact March 16, Manila’s labour secretary said, after talks set off by maid abuses, one apparent murder and workers’ suicides in the oil-rich Arab nation.

A ban on sending Filipinos to work in Kuwait will remain in place, Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a phone interview after the sides engaged in two days of talks resolved their last remaining issues over dinner.

President Rodrigo Duterte has said the ban won’t be lifted unless Filipinos get better protection in Kuwait and justice is served for the Filipina woman, Joana Demafelis, whose death sparked outrage in the Philippines because of its grim circumstances. Bello said earlier that even if a pact was reached Duterte wanted to see justice served in her case before lifting the ban.

Bello said the pact would be signed at an agreed time and venue in the near future. The last issues to be settled involved the work contracts and the handling of passports of Filipinos in Kuwait, where more than 260,000 Filipinos work, many of them as housemaids.

Philippine officials have demanded that housemaids be allowed to hold their passports and cellphones, which is normal for skilled workers like teachers and office workers. But many Kuwaiti employers have seized the phones and legal papers, which Bello said prevented maids from rapidly seeking help when they were abused. Philippine officials have also sought a minimum monthly wage of at least $400 for housemaids.

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