Manila: Philippine government officials and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) expressed happiness with the UAE’s commitment to labour safety and protection.

The UAE’s new domestic worker law was signed into implementation last week and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by the labour ministers of the Philippines and the UAE, officials said.

“We would like to express our gratitude to President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan for this kind gesture that would benefit hundreds of Filipinos working as domestic helpers in the UAE,” said Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano, in a statement from Washington DC.

The new law on domestic workers and their safety and rights is a comprehensive work of legislation that looks into all aspects of their welfare.

The law will take effect two months after it is published in the UAE’s Official Gazette, Philippine Ambassador to Abu Dhabi Constancio Vingno Jr said in a statement to Manila’s foreign affairs office.

Of the 618,000 OFWs in the UAE, 120,000 of them are domestic workers, said Vingno.

Meanwhile, Philippine and UAE labour ministers signed an MoU that called for the observation of proper employment procedure, said Philippine Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

Bello and Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, signed an MoU that called for “strict implementation of employment procedure for OFWs to the UAE, to stop human trafficking, regulation of private recruitment agencies, and ensure fair treatment of migrant workers”, said Bello.

“This agreement will also prevent contract substitution.”

The Philippines was also tasked to “brief all OFWs deployed to UAE on the country’s laws, policies, norms and culture; to assure the legal entry of OFWs to the UAE with proper verification of job orders and contracts; and to communicate assistance extended by the Philippine embassy, consulate, and Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) to any distressed OFW”, said Bello.

The Philippines’ departments of foreign affairs and labour have begun to prepare for inter-government negotiations (with 190 nations) in 2018, for labour protection under the aegis of the United Nation’s Global Compact on Migration (GCM).

“The negotiations will cover issues such as insurance, labour conditions, minimum wages, number of off days, and repatriation costs,” said Manila’s Foreign Affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar.

With a participation of 190 nations, GCM is expected to establish the framework and mechanisms to better uphold migrant worker security, respect for human rights, and access to justice, explained Bolivar.

There are about 10 million OFWs based worldwide and they represent 10 per cent of their country’s population of 100 million.