Hundreds of Kuwait-bound overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are appealing to Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III to lift the total deployment of workers to the Middle Eastern country.
“We are covered by a separate law on workers to Kuwait and are not part of the memorandum of understanding [MOU] the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is negotiating with Kuwait labor officials,” the OFW group said in a news statement issued on Wednesday.
Bello has announced on radio earlier that Kuwait has “informally” accepted the new provisions for additional protection of Filipino household service workers (HSW).
He said the DOLE is just waiting for Kuwaiti labor officials to arrive this week to finalize the draft agreement, which Bello said he will sign in Kuwait this month.
The formal signing of the MOU by Philippine and Kuwait labor officials may pave the way for the lifting of the ban of OFWs to Kuwait.
Thousands of HSWs have lost their opportunities to work in Kuwait since the ban was implemented on January 22, even as their visas have expired, including their medical certificates, which are part of the requirements for the issuance of a work permit from the Kuwait Embassy.
Hundreds of skilled OFWs who are affected by the total deployment ban to Kuwait are still appealing to the government to “save our jobs,” as the ban enters its sixth week with no relief in sight.
Recruitment consultant and migration expert Emmanuel S. Geslani, for his part, urged Bello to reconsider his decision to continue the deployment ban to Kuwait, which includes skilled workers who appealed to him this week, to allow them to leave for their waiting jobs in Kuwait.
These skilled workers are oil and gas engineers, information-technology professionals, nurses, medical and laboratory technicians, store mangers, sales personnel, communication technicians, maintenance personnel electricians, plumbers and carpenters.
They have been issued visas and are just awaiting for the issuance of their plane tickets from their employers.
However since January 22, when the order was signed by Bello to stop the processing of overseas employment certificate for all new hires for both skilled and HSW, “the world has stopped for them for the past month with no solution in sight.”
The skilled workers who were recruited and processed by licensed agencies deploying workers to Kuwait have already resigned from their jobs after being selected for the jobs in Kuwait.
If the impasse on the deployment ban continues for the next few months, recruitment agencies fear that the visas for the skilled workers will expire, including their medical results, which have a three-month validity period.
“Once the visas expire and the principal does not extend them the foreign jobs, these jobs will definitely be lost and workers will be jobless,” Geslani said.
Employers in Kuwait have also canceled the visas for other workers and have started to look at other countries to fill in the demand for their projects.
Bello said that he was waiting for the Kuwaiti government to sign the MOU that seeks to add more protection guarantees for HSWs. Skilled OFWs, however, said that they are covered by the Kuwait Labor Laws, which are adequate unlike HSWs, who fall under a different category under Kuwait law.
In 2016 around 105,000 OFWs were deployed to Kuwait, with 57,061 as HSWs, while the skilled workers filled up the balance of 105,000
There are 270,000 OFWs in Kuwait, with almost 150,000 HSWs, and the rest are skilled workers, mostly in oil—production services.