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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 August 2018

Kuwaiti recruitment agencies required to deposit $10,000 for Filipino domestic workers

The move might spark some tension after the two countries signed a new employment agreement in May

Around 190 Overseas Filipino Workers from Kuwait submit their documents upon their arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Reuters
Around 190 Overseas Filipino Workers from Kuwait submit their documents upon their arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Reuters

The Philippines is demanding that domestic worker agencies pay $10,000 dollars to recruit Filipinos in Kuwait.

The money is intended as a guarantee for a safe return of employees to the Philippines in case of an emergency.

The move comes after Kuwait and the Philippines agreed on a deal to regulate the working conditions for domestic workers in the Gulf country after a Filipina maid was found dead in a freezer in February.

The employers of Joanna Daniela Demafelis were arrested in Damascus in February, after Kuwaiti authorities launched an investigation with the Interpol to track the Syrian-Lebanese couple suspected of the murder. They have both been given the death sentence.

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Read more:

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Filipinos criticise president over 'reckless' ban on workers in Kuwait

Kuwait and Philippines strike domestic worker deal

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The murder sparked a crisis earlier this year, which came to an end after President Rodrigo Duterte apologised to Kuwait over “harsh words” against its supposed ill-treatment of workers.

The deal, which came during a meeting between a Kuwaiti ministerial delegation and Filipino authorities in Manila will ensure the rights of both employers and employees, said Sami Al Hamad, the undersecretary for consulate affairs at the Foreign Ministry.

“We are in serious discussions with the authorities and recruitment agencies here to lower the cost from KD 990 because we believe abuses are connected to high costs as well. Employers won’t easily give passports and days off in fear that the helper could run away,” Teresa Olgado, Assistant Labour Attache told a Kuwaiti newspaper.

The new provision, agreed upon by both governments, ensures that foreign workers in Kuwait have the right to retain their passports, as well as the right to refuse transfer of their working visa to another employer.

A Kuwaiti social media icon was heavily criticised over the internet this week after she posted a video expressing her anger at the new law.

A UN reported earlier this year said more needs to be done to prevent the exploitation and abuse of domestic workers in the Middle East.

Some 10 million Filipinos work overseas. Their cash remittances, which the central bank says was over $28 billion last year, are a major contributor to the Philippine economy.

The Philippines government banned its citizens to travel to the UAE to work as domestic workers because of the alleged unscrupulous behaviour of some recruiters and cases of suspected abuse.

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