Kuwait, Philippines sign deal to regulate domestic labor

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Kuwait and the Philippines signed a deal on Friday to regulate domestic workers, after a dispute between the two countries led to a ban on Filipino workers in the Gulf state.

“A short time ago we signed an agreement between the two countries on the employment of domestic workers,” Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah told a joint press conference with his Filipino counterpart Alan Peter Cayetano.

In February Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a partial ban on workers travelling to Kuwait after a Filipina maid was murdered and her body found in a freezer.

The crisis deepened after Kuwaiti authorities in April expelled Manila’s ambassador over video footage of Philippine embassy staff helping workers escape employers accused of mistreatment.

Cayetano said a new ambassador to Kuwait would soon be appointed and that he would advise Duterte to “immediately” lift the ban.

“I think the crisis is over. We will move on with the bilateral relations and we will resume normal ties with Kuwait,” said an official with Cayetano’s delegation.

He added that the agreement “gives a number of rights to Philippine workers.”

Under the deal, Filipino workers will be able to keep their cell phones and will receive one day of rest per week, he said, adding that “Philippine authorities will be able to coordinate and extend a hand to Filipinos who need help”.

About 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, 60 percent of them in domestic labor, according to Manila.
More than two million Filipinos are employed across the Gulf.

Rights groups have repeatedly urged Gulf states to reform their labor laws to cover domestic workers and provide them with “equal protections” available to other workers.

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