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Upgraded contracts seen to end exploitation of PHL maids in MidEast

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Thursday hailed the decision of labor ministers in the Gulf to improve the contracts of foreign domestic workers, saying this could “end soon the days of abuse” of Filipino maids in the Middle East.

“This is a boost to our efforts to ensure increased protection for the well-being, safety, and welfare for our Filipino domestic workers,” she said in a statement.

“It will, I hope, end soon the days of abuse and exploitation suffered by many domestic workers who, because of the nature of their work, are extremely vulnerable.”

Baldoz said the new minimum terms on contracts to be imposed by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will help the Philippines with its efforts to protect its domestic helpers.

Among the improvements in the contracts are the provision of annual leaves, eight-hour work shifts, weekly dayoffs, and a right to live outside the employer's house.

Employers will also be barred from confiscating their employee's passports, and ordered to pay the domestic helper's end-of-service indemnity and overtime pay.

The GCC is composed of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

Baldoz said these provisions were in line with the International Labor Organization's (ILO) Convention 189, ratified by the Philippine Senate in 2012 for its goal of providing decent work to domestic workers.

“These principles became universal after ILO Convention 189 had entered into force, and I am very happy that the GCC has stepped-in with the times and with the rest of the world in affording decent and productive work for domestic workers,” she said.

Baldoz also said the Philippines, as a leading voice in the promotion of domestic workers’ welfare and protection, should take advantage of this new agreement to ensure that its strong regulatory regime in the deployment of domestic workers will result to the drastic reduction, if not elimination, of abuse and exploitation.

“Uncaring recruiters, opportunistic middlemen, and abusive employers who do not treat our HSWs with respect and dignity as workers and as human beings with universal right should be penalized and banned from participating in overseas employment," she said. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News