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Kuwait, Philippines sign deal to regulate domestic labour: minister Open in fullscreen

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Kuwait, Philippines sign deal to regulate domestic labour: minister

The two nations have faced several months of tension [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 May, 2018

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Kuwait and Manila 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 deal to regulate domestic workers was signed between Kuwait and Philippines on Friday, 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. 

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”.

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 in April after Kuwaiti authorities in 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”.

Earlier this month, al-Subaih described the tensions between the two nations as "largely a misunderstanding".

"This is largely a misunderstanding and exaggeration of some minor or one-off cases. 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. 

About 10 million Filipinos work abroad, seeking high-paying jobs they are unable to find at home, and their remittances are a major pillar of the Philippine economy.

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

Manila has for decades hailed overseas workers as heroes but advocacy groups have highlighted the social cost of migration, tearing families apart and making Filipinos vulnerable to abuse.

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

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