More than 3,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) applying for work in Kuwait this month will be derailed because the Kuwait government has stopped issuing new visas to Filipinos, migrant expert Emmanuel Geslani said Friday.
In a statement, Geslani said that talks between both sides ended in a deadlock over issues on the “Welfare Centers” which the Kuwaiti government wants removed while the Philippine panel insists that is part of the mandate of the government.
Geslani said he doubts the deployment ban on new domestic and skilled workers to Kuwait would be lifted anytime soon.
Meanwhile the three thousand OFWs bound for Kuwait this month of May will have to wait, while the fate of thousands of Filipino workers in Kuwait whose visas are expected to expire this month is not yet clear.
Kuwait is host to 280,000 OFWs with 180,000 working as domestic helpers and contributes more than $3 billion to the country’s coffers through their dollar remittances.
In 2022 more than 100,000 OFWs were deployed to Kuwait when the deployment ban to Saudi Arabia was in place from 2021-2022 over unpaid wages.
Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Ople is scheduled to leave for Saudi Arabia on May 20 to discuss the payment of the 10,000 OFWs and she will be part of the Philippine delegation to the Kuwait talks.
Meanwhile, Ople said that the Hong Kong government has assured assistance to the family of “Lyn” who fell to her death in Hong Kong.
Ople made this assurance after a phone conversation with Secretary for Labor and Welfare Chris Sun where the latter vowed to extend as much assistance as possible to the bereaved family.
“Lyn” was 38 years old and unmarried at the time of death, and her two siblings are now in Hong Kong under the care of the Philippine Consulate and the Migrant Workers’ Office to facilitate the repatriation of the remains and to hold a meeting with their sister’s employer as well as the HK Employees’ Compensation Division.
In a statement, Ople said the Philippine government and the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China will work closely together to prevent similar tragic cases from happening in the future.
“We will extend full assistance and support to her bereaved family while working closely with Secretary Chris Sun and his department to ensure that the principle of ‘safety above all else’ is carried out as part of employers’ obligations,” Ople said. The DMW recently issued an advisory for all employers to abide by the terms and conditions of the contract including the prohibition on window-cleaning.
Sun told Ople that he was “deeply troubled and saddened” by Lyn’s death.
“Secretary Sun and I discussed the need to remind employers of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong about the prohibition in the standard employment contract on window-cleaning which has been in effect since 2017,” Ople said.
Based on the HK-approved standard employment contract for Filipino domestic workers, window-cleaning can only be allowed when the windows have grills and only the arms of the workers can stretch outside.
The Hong Kong government’s Immigration Authority said that as of April 30, 2022 there are 211,514 Filipinos in the Special Administrative Region with 181,067 working as domestic workers.
To protect overseas Filipino workers from illegal recruitment and human trafficking, Senator Robin Padilla has filed Senate Bill 2216 to tighten the screws against illegal recruitment syndicates.
Padilla’s bill seeks to amend Art. 38 (b) of Presidential Decree 442 (Labor Code of the Philippines) and Section 6 of RA 8042, the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.
In his bill, Padilla sought to define illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate if two – instead of the current three – persons conspire to carry out the crime.
“The current definition of illegal recruitment fails to capture the severity of the crime when committed by syndicates and on a large scale,” he said.