DMW and DFA team up to achieve the goal of returning OFWs to Kuwait

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) team-up to achieve the goal of returning the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to Kuwait after the suspension.

The recruitment sector hopes that the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait will start by the first quarter of 2024 with the successful talks with their counterparts from Kuwait Ministry of Labor and Immigration.

The discussions between the two panels centered on the suspensions, and the role of welfare centers which were the sticking points that triggered the suspension of deployment to Kuwait last May 10, 2023.

Migration expert Emmanuel Geslani said the further talks discuss new mechanisms on the role of recruitment agencies and resolve problems between foreign recruitment agencies and the local private recruitment agencies in Manila.

Kuwaiti labor expert Bassam Al-Shamrri expressed optimism that a new agreement may be reached before the start of Ramadan which falls on March 9, 2024.

In the meantime the local private recruitment agencies deploying to Kuwait PHILAAK (Philippine Agencies Accredited to Kuwait) had met earlier with Foreign Recruitment Agencies (FRAs) operating in Kuwait to start the process in coming up with a white list similar to the process in Saudi Arabia for the deployment of HSWs that will screen compliant PRAs and FRAs from Kuwait.

Current problems encountered by PRAs are non-payment of salaries, domestic and verbal abuse, extreme working hours, no day-off and refusal to arbitration with the POLO on complaints of run-way domestic workers.

It will be recalled that this impasse between Kuwait started in February this year on the violent death of Jubilee Ranara at the hands of the son of her employer and the late DMW Secretary Ma. Susana “TOOTs” Ople imposed a ban on new Household Service Workers (HSWs).

However Kuwait imposed a wider ban which covered all Filipino migrant workers to cover skilled or unskilled except those OWS holding resident visas.,
The lifting of the deployment ban was jump started when President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr and the Crown Prince of Kuwait met at the sidelines of the ASEAN-GCC Meeting in Saudi Arabia Crown Prince apologized over the ban and both President Marcos and the Crown Prince agreed that the ban should be lifted for the continuing good relations of both countries.

There are over 280,000 OFWs in Kuwait, the majority are HSWs at 260,000 while the rest are skilled workers. In 2022 the POEA\DMWE recorded 60,000 OFWs were deployed to Kuwait including re-hires or Balik Mangagawa vacationing OFWs.

A potential 30,000 HSWs can be deployed once the deployment ban is lifted as Kuwaiti employers prefer Filipina maids and skilled workers.

Ariel Fernandez

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