Kuwait, Philippines Move to Defuse Domestic Worker Row


(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Kuwait, Philippines Move to Defuse Domestic Worker Row

Tuesday, 1 May, 2018 – 09:00
Overseas Filipino Workers from Kuwait gather upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay city, Metro Manila, Philippines in February. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Kuwait announced on Monday that it will set up a special commission to address the employment of housemaids in the Gulf state, in what was interpreted as an olive branch extended to the Philippines over the migrant labor row.

Manila announced on Monday that it was prepared to dispatch a delegation to Kuwait to contain the escalating dispute over domestic foreign workers in Kuwait.

The development stood in stark contrast to President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement over the weekend that Manila’s ban on sending domestic workers to Kuwait was permanent.

Duterte in February prohibited workers heading to Kuwait following the murder of a Filipina maid whose body was found stuffed in her employer’s freezer.

The resulting row deepened last week after Kuwaiti authorities ordered Manila’s envoy to leave the country over videos of Philippine embassy staff helping workers in Kuwait flee their employers.

During its weekly meeting, the Kuwaiti government on Monday said it was opposed to any move “aimed at undermining its sovereignty and its laws”, the official KUNA news agency reported.

The government added however that it will set up a special commission chaired by the minister of social affairs and labor to follow up “on cooperation with friendly states” on the employment of housemaids in Kuwait.

“This is largely a misunderstanding and exaggeration of some minor or one-off cases,” Deputy Foreign Minister Nasser al-Subaih told reporters in Kuwait City.

“We have taken a serious stance … but we do not believe in escalation and want to remain in direct communication to resolve the problem,” Subaih added.

Kuwait and the Philippines had been negotiating a labor deal that could have resulted in the lifting of the ban on Filipinos working in the Gulf state.

The Philippines on Tuesday welcomed Kuwait’s olive branch in the migrant labor row.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said: “This gesture on the part of Kuwait, a country with which we have a shared history and strong people-to-people ties, will allow us to move forward.”

“We affirm our friendship with the government of Kuwait and its people. The strength of that friendship will withstand this misunderstanding,” he added.

Around 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, nearly 60 percent of them domestic workers, according to the Philippines’ foreign ministry.

Duterte said workers returning from Kuwait could find employment as English teachers in China, citing improved ties with Beijing.

The Philippines has sent millions of its people to work abroad, seeking salaries they cannot get in their relatively impoverished nation.

The money they send back home accounts for about 10 percent of the Philippine economy.

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