Kuwait Reaches Deal with Philippines Regarding Domestic Workers

By Ohconfucius via Wikimedia Commons

On Saturday, KUNA, the state news agency of Kuwait, reported that the Republic of the Philippines and Kuwait had signed an agreement that regulates some working conditions for the domestic workers in the Gulf State.

The deal may potentially end a two-month crisis that was sparked by reports that abuse that was made by employers in Kuwait had let to the suicide of several Filipinos.

The Philippines suspended sending workers to Kuwait last January after a Filipino migrant worker was found dead inside a freezer, the most recent incident in what Manila dubbed as a pattern of abuse in the Gulf state.

KUNA said that a deal was signed in Manila last Friday after a meeting between a visiting delegation from Kuwait and some Filipino authorities.

KUNA quoted Sami Al-Hamad, the Foreign Ministry Undersecretary for Consulate Affairs, as saying: “The deal will ensure the rights of both employers and employees,”

Al-Hamad said that the two sides agreed that domestic workers who are from the Philippines would have the right to now surrender their passports to their employers as well as the right to decline being transferred to other employers.

There was no comment from the government of the Philippines.

Workers in many Gulf states are contracted under the Kafala (sponsorship) system, which gives the employers the right to keep their passports and full control regarding their stay in the country.

Rights groups say that this system leaves millions of workers in the Gulf region susceptible to exploitation.

KUNA said that the delegation requested that the hiring domestic Filipino workers resume at Kuwaiti agencies.

The Philippine foreign ministry estimates that there are over 250,000 Filipinos in Kuwait,  with most employed as domestic helpers. There are also massive numbers in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.