KUWAIT: Domestic labor recruitment offices lined up at a complex in Kuwait. – Ben Garcia

By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: Since a total labor deployment ban to Kuwait was imposed by the Philippine government on Jan 15, many local recruitment agencies have stopped operations temporarily. This led some agency secretaries to post on social media urging employers to hire them since they are now jobless. There are around 100 Filipina secretaries dealing with Filipino domestic helpers at approximately 300 active local recruitment agencies in Kuwait.

“Many secretaries working in recruitment agencies are now jobless – others are still retained by employers hoping for a redeployment of Filipino workers soon. But so far, we do not know how long the ban will last. We hope it will only be temporary,” said a secretary at a local recruitment agency in Hawally. “Recruitment agencies that were piggybacking on somebody else’s licenses have completely stopped their operations. We are operating because some domestic helpers are returning to the agency, and it is part of our job to attend to their needs,” she said.

A Kuwaiti recruitment agency owner told Kuwait Times he is in favor of a temporary ban. “Even if I don’t have business right now, I am very much in favor of a temporary ban,” he said. “The Kuwaiti government should realize the value of Filipino workers – they must implement the memorandum of agreement and I am hoping fervently that with the ban, employers here realize how important it is to have them as our workers. We should treat our housemaids like members of our family; if they cannot treat them fairly, better not get any worker. They are not here to work as slaves – they are human beings too,” he said.

Asked if he is planning to sack some of his Filipino secretaries, he replied in the negative. “No, they are under my responsibility. My business is a recruitment agency; perhaps if the ban continues, I will consider accepting domestic helpers from other countries. I am not planning to fire any of my employees,” he said.

He said his agency only deals with Filipino workers because they are easy to handle. “I noticed Filipinos are highly in demand. So we settled on recruiting Filipino workers only, since Kuwaitis like them to work in their houses. They understand English well and are well-mannered. Yes, there have been some issues reported like getting into relationships with drivers or sometimes with the boss, but these are few cases. We Kuwaitis must realize they are coming here to work – we cannot generalize all of them to be like that,” he explained.

A secretary of an agency told Kuwait Times that because of lack of business from the Philippine job market, her two sponsored students back home would have to look for new foster parents. “I am sponsoring two students in the Philippines. They are at college level. I don’t know how to continue the support since I don’t have an extra income working as a secretary of the agency.

I hope to get another job, but it’s not easy, since we are not allowed to work in another company without the permission of the boss. I am still hoping that everything will be okay and that the ban will be lifted soon,” she said. With the Manila deployment ban, only two countries are legally sending domestic helpers to Kuwait – Sri Lanka and India. Talks on the redeployment of Ethiopian workers are still in progress.