AMID reports that Filipino household workers (HSWs) or domestic helpers were being traded like slaves, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is considering expanding the existing deployment ban in Kuwait to Saudi Arabia and other Middle East (ME) countries.
“For example, in Saudi, it is common malpractice that the employer trades or switches their worker to other employers. That’s what they call the kafala system and it is always for consideration. We will impose the same restrictions (like in Kuwait) and will consider deployment ban if strengthened protection of our OFWs was not assured,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd said on Wednesday.
Bello said a DOLE team, headed by Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad, has left for the Middle East to assess the conditions of Filipino workers and how the labor department may help them.
“This is a drastic measure,” Bello said, even as he stressed that the government would have no other measure but to act accordingly to protect the interest of Filipino workers, particularly HSWS, if they were being subjected to physical abuse and other forms of maltreatment.
Bello said the report of the labor team would be a reliable basis for the amendment or enhancement of existing bilateral labor agreements with Arab countries in order to provide further protection to OFWs. WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL