Kuwait reaches deal with Philippines on worker rights

“The deal will ensure the rights of both employers and employees,” an official said



Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte shows a photo of a Filipina worker in Kuwait, of whom he said she had been "roasted like a pig", during a press conference in Davao City, in the southern island of Mindanao on February 9, 2018.

Kuwait and the Philippines have signed an agreement regulating some working conditions for domestic workers in the Gulf State, Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA reported on Saturday.

The deal may end a two-month crisis sparked by reports that abuse by employers in Kuwait had driven several Filipinos to suicide.

Read: Philippines’ Duterte to visit Kuwait amid labour abuse controversy

The Philippines stopped sending workers to Kuwait in January after a Filipino migrant worker was found dead in a freezer, the latest incident in what Manila called a pattern of abuse in the Gulf state.

KUNA said a deal was signed in Manila on Friday after a meeting between a visiting Kuwaiti delegation and Filipino authorities.

“The deal will ensure the rights of both employers and employees,” KUNA quoted foreign ministry undersecretary for consulate affairs Sami Al-Hamad as saying.

Al-Hamad said the two sides agreed that domestic workers from the Philippines will have the right to retain their passports as well as the right to refuse being transferred to other employers.

There was no immediate comment from the Philippines government.

Read: Philippines says progress in Kuwait labour talks but not ready to lift ban

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

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

The delegation asked that hiring domestic Filipino workers resume at Kuwaiti agencies, KUNA said.

There are more than 250,000 Filipinos in Kuwait, the Philippine foreign ministry estimates, with most working as domestic helpers. There are also large numbers in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.