Kuwait City—Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, who is in this oil-rich Gulf country for the 3rd Abu Dhabi Dialogue Ministerial Meeting starting tomorrow, yesterday heaped praises upon Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates after their labor ministers reportedly agreed on a new contract with much-improved terms and conditions that will better the plight of migrant domestic workers in their countries.
“It is headline news that the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, whose labor and social affairs ministers met two days ahead of the 3rd Abu Dhabi Dialogue, have agreed on minimum terms in the contracts of domestic workers. This is, indeed, a welcome development, and I commend the GCC labor ministers for the far-reaching, positive implications of their agreement,” Baldoz said.
“This is a boost to our efforts to ensure increased protection for the well-being, safety, and welfare for our Filipino domestic workers. It will, I hope, end soon the days of abuse and exploitation suffered by many domestic workers who, because of the nature of their work, are extremely vulnerable,” said Baldoz.
The Kuwait Times and Arab Times, the leading English dailies in Kuwait, headlined the news Wednesday.
The new contract, according to an AFP new report quoting Jamal Al-Dossari, Director General of Kuwait’s Public Authority for Manpower, entitles domestic workers to a weekly day off; annual leave; and the right to live outside their employers’ house. It also limits domestic workers’ working hours to eight (8) hours; entitles them to end-of-service indemnity; and overtime pay for extra work for a maximum of two hours per day. In addition, the contract bans employers from confiscating workers’ passports.
Baldoz observed that these provisions are all in line with the principles embodied in Convention 189 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in which the Philippines played a leading role in its adoption and its subsequent ratification in 2012.
“These principles became universal after ILO Convention 189 had entered into force, and I am very happy that the GCC has stepped-in with the times and with the rest of the world in affording decent and productive work for domestic workers,” Baldoz said.
The labor and employment chief noted that the Philippines, while it accepts the play of market forces, continues to implement and promote its Household Workers’ Reform Package, which has a very strong bias for welfare and protection, particularly on the minimum salary of US$400 for all domestic workers.
On the reported new contract for domestic workers, Baldoz said the Philippines, as a leading voice in the promotion of domestic workers’ welfare and protection, should take advantage of this new agreement to ensure that its strong regulatory regime in the deployment of HSWs will result to the drastic reduction, if not elimination, of abuse and exploitation of our HSWs.
“Uncaring recruiters, opportunistic middlemen, and abusive employers who do not treat our HSWs with respect and dignity as workers and as human beings with universal right should be penalized and banned from participating in overseas employment,” Baldoz emphatically said.