Philippines, Kuwait sign MOU for bilateral labor cooperation, workers welfare

The Philippines and Kuwait on March 23, 2012, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen bilateral-labor cooperation and strengthen workers welfare to the increasing labor and economic interaction between the two countries.
The accord was signed by and between Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz and Kuwaiti Minister of Commerce Anas Al-Saleh in the presence of His Excellency President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Royal Amir of Kuwait His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al Sabah at the Malacañan Palace.
The event is part of the official five-day state visit of the Royal Amir of Kuwait.
Baldoz said the Philippines is highly honored that the Royal Amir of Kuwait is visiting the Philippines. This is an affirmation, of the strong, vibrant, and dynamic bilateral-labor relations between the two states, according to the secretary.
“His visit to the Philippines recalls the most compassionate treatment consistently accorded by the Royal Amir to the OFWs, particularly distressed ones, facilitating their assistance and reintegration back to the Philippines,” Baldoz said.
The labor and employment chief said that on the part of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the accord is consistent with the aim of President Aquino III, in his 22-point platform and policy pronouncements on labor and employment, to strengthen the protection and welfare of OFWs, address the social costs of migration, and review the continued deployment of workers to countries, which are high-and medium-risk areas, as well the continued deployment of workers in high-risk occupations.
The accord, Baldoz said, immediately paves the road for the creation of a Philippine-Kuwait Joint Working Group that, based on Article 8, shall (a) ensure the implementation of the MOU; (b) jointly review and agree on a standard employment contract (for OFWs); (c) propose revisions of the MOU as may be necessary and to resolve problems in its implementation; and, (d) study emerging employment opportunities and suggest measures of technical cooperation, training skill enhancement and to provide all the sectors with technically skilled personnel for the benefit of both parties.
Based on Philippine Overseas Employment Administration figures, 65,603 documented overseas Filipino workers were deployed in Kuwait in 2011.
The accord, entitled “Memorandum of Understanding Between The Government of the State of Kuwait and The Government of the Republic of the Philippines in the Field of Labor Cooperation”, Kuwait and the Philippines affirmed the following:
•  Strengthen cooperation in the in the field of labor and employment and human resource development;
•  Facilitate relevant services to adopt and develop such cooperation within the framework of the existing laws, rules, and regulations of both countries;
•  Facilitate labor mobility within the framework of the existing applicable laws, rules, and regulations in each country;
•  The recruitment and employment of workers shall be in accordance with existing laws and procedures between the two countries and shall be governed by the mutual benefit;
• Share expertise and knowledge in the field of job creation and employment through exchange of visits and consultations;
• The basic conditions of employment and the rights and duties of both the employer and the employee shall be specified in the contract of employment in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations;
• The employment contract must be written in the Arabic and English languages, both being equally authentic;
• The employer in the host country shall issue the work permit along with the documents presented at the time of seeking approval as well as a copy of the employment contract of the worker within two months of his arrival in the country; and
• Any dispute between the employer and the worker arising out of the interpretation or implementation of the employment contract shall be settled amicably by consultation or negotiation. The worker’s right to labor and criminal courts shall likewise be ensured by both parties.
Baldoz was pleased with the other agreements resulting from the Kuwaiti visit, including agriculture and fisheries, along with an executive program and cultural accord, saying, “At core we recognize that these may have directly or indirectly, mutually beneficial labor and economic aspects between the Philippines and Kuwait.”
“Indeed, along with the generation of productive opportunities, workers welfare and protection remain of utmost priority, anent the overarching goal stated by President Aquino to invest in our country’s top resource—our human resource—to make us more competitive and employable while promoting industrial peace based on social justice,” Baldoz said.