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Kuwait urges calm amid Manila’s worker ban move

Labour ministry in Manila issues clarifications after initially proposing blanket ban over death of worker

Gulf News

Kuwait: Kuwait’s foreign minister has sought to assuage a feeling of unease in the Philippines following a case in which a dead Filipina was found in a freezer.

It’s the latest case to draw the anger of populist Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, whose government initially indicated it was considering banning its citizens from working in Kuwait, which has provided employment to some 170,000 Filipinos.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Kuwaiti foreign minister Sabah Khalid Al Sabah said: “This escalation will not benefit the relationship between Kuwait and the Philippines.”

He also said that Kuwait warmly welcomed Filipino workers.

On Monday, the Philippines’ Department of Labour and Employment had issued an order calling for “a total ban on deployment of all overseas Filipino workers to Kuwait.” It’s unclear how widely the order is being enforced.

The Philippine labour department has since issued new guidelines clarifying the ban that the government imposed on sending workers to Kuwait amid prevailing confusion over the enforcement of the restrictions.

Department of Labour and Employment Secretary Silvastre Bello on Wednesday issued an order that listed exemptions from the earlier one issued by President Duterte banning the deployment of workers to Kuwait.

Exceptions include “workers who are vacationing in the Philippines and will be returning to the same employer to finish their contracts at the end of his or her vacation”.

Likewise, workers who are returning to Kuwait on a new contract with the same employer are also not covered by the ban.

Filipino shipping crew who would be resuming service on their ships or transiting or boarding in Kuwait are also exempted from the ban.

The clarification came following confusion at immigration counters at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Tuesday as several dozen overseas Filipino workers with unfinished labour contracts were initially denied exit to join their workplace in Kuwait.

— With inputs from agencies

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