Cairo: Recent talks held between Kuwait and the Philippines to resolve a labour row have apparently failed to make headway despite initial optimism, according to a Kuwaiti media report.
Earlier this month, Kuwaiti and Philippine officials met in Kuwait for talks aimed to clear the way for ending a Kuwaiti ban on recruitment of labour from the Philippines. Obstacles have reportedly cropped up, however.
“Talks between the two sides witnessed significant progress in their first days and heralded the return of labour ties severed since May,” said Bassam Al Shammeri, a Kuwaiti specialist in domestic labour affairs.
“But, the talks did not lead to any positive results because the Philippine side insisted on keeping the shelters affiliated to the (Philippine) embassy, rejected by Kuwait for being illegal.” he said.
A newspaper quoted sources close to the talks as saying that Kuwait renewed its request for closing down these shelters as a must for lifting its ban on the Filipino labour.
Al Shammeri said Manila will invite Kuwait to send officials for holding a new round of talks soon.
“If the Philippine side continues to insist on keeping these shelters, negotiations may crumble and we return to square one,” he said.
Al Shammeri said that during the talks held in Kuwait, the Philippine officials justified insistence on retaining the disputed shelters, arguing that Filipino workers, registered as fugitives, are held for months in Kuwaiti government accommodation centres set up for illegal expatriates, and that there is no clear Kuwaiti mechanism for restoring labour financial rights.
There was no official comment from Kuwait or Manila.
In May, Kuwait announced suspending the issuance of all visas for Filipino workers in reaction to what it said Philippine authorities’ failure to comply with a labour agreement previously reached between the two countries.
Kuwait blamed the ban on what it called “wrong practices” made by the Philippine embassy and crimes committed by some members of the Filipino community against Kuwaitis.
However, Kuwait said it continues renewal for Filipinos holding valid residency permits, who want to keep working in the country.