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Domestic labor offices in Kuwait face huge crisis
April 1, 2017, 4:11 pm

Owners of recruitment companies and domestic labor bureaus have warned that the domestic labor market in Kuwait is bound to face a huge crisis. They indicated that the cost of recruiting domestic workers from the Philippines has been increasing erratically due to some measures taken by the Kuwaiti Embassy in Manila, which includes medical tests in eight clinics through a private company, instead of 19 clinics as it was before.

They explained that the Kuwaiti Embassy in Manila took sudden measures after seeking approval from the Ministry of Health of the Philippines, which entailed an introduction of new medical test measures for labor force.

Ali Al-Ali, one of the owners of domestic labor recruitment companies said he wonders why the Kuwaiti Embassy in Manila, despite the court’s verdict regarding this matter, is persisting on following the new measures instead of restoring to the old system, which is basically the system used by majority of the GCC countries in this aspect.

He said, “The surprising aspect regarding this issue is the cost of conducting medical tests after reducing the recognized clinics from 19 to just 8. It has increased by 500 percent, from 240 pesos to 8,400 pesos. This cost has to be borne by the owners of the recruitment bureau, which means the cost for recruiting domestic workers from the Philippines will increase from KD800 to KD1,300.”

Meanwhile, Indonesia said its ban on its citizens traveling to the Middle-East to work as maids would continue, despite a new law that allowed domestic helpers to travel overseas for employment.

Domestic helpers make up more than a third of the six million Indonesian working abroad. Thousands of Indonesian women travel to places like Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia every year to become maids, attracted by promises of higher salaries despite reports of widespread abuses and near slave-like living conditions.

Jakarta had previously said it would stop sending maids overseas from this year, on the grounds of protecting the women, sparking concerns it would push more poor Indonesians desperate for jobs into illegal migration.

However a senior official at the Manpower Ministry said last week that Jakarta would not go ahead with the ban but it has been in talks with countries to ensure Indonesian maids are treated in a "humane" way. "We are not stopping Indonesians going overseas to become domestic workers but we want better protection for them," said Soes Hindharno, director for the protection and placement of Indonesian migrant workers abroad.

He said this includes preventing what he called "multi-tasking work" by Indonesian maids to reduce exploitation. "If they are housekeepers, they are housekeepers — they clean, cook and iron. If they are babysitters, they are babysitters — you can't ask a babysitter to bathe your dog," he said.

Migrant activists welcomed the decision, but said more needed to be done to combat human trafficking including ensuring women were made aware of their rights before leaving for work overseas. Since 2015, Indonesia has banned women from going to 21 Middle Eastern countries following a series of abuse cases. Mr. Hindharno said the ban on maids going to the Middle-East for employment would still remain in place.


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