The stage for labour relations between Brunei Darussalam and the Philippines hasbeen set following the first face-to-face meeting between government representatives from both countries earlier this week.
Authorities from respective governments are set to hammer out terms and conditions for both formal and informal Filipino workers living in the country with discussions to begin at the technical level, Rosalinda Baldoz, the Philippines Labour Secretary told the media on the sidelines of a meeting with Bruneian employers held at a hotel in Gadong yesterday.
The Philippines, she said, is looking to secure the rights and welfare of Filipino migrant workers in the country including setting minimum working hours, minimum wages, overtime pay and other benefits including discouraging the practice of withholding workers’ passports which is common practice despite such action being considered illegal as per Brunei’s laws.
The anticipated terms and conditions, she explained, will be a direct result of draft documents that have outlined clauses set forth by the Asean-partner governments.
“If there are no serious issues raised at the technical level and if the earlier draft agreement that we have forwarded to Bruneian authorities is sufficient, we see no reason not to fast-track the agreement,” she said but did not give a timeline as to when these policies will be introduced.
She said Brunei’s openness for possible negotiations in the form of a bilateral agreement to set clearer standards of employment terms and conditions for Filipino migrant workers in the country is an indication that “even the government sees some room for improvement in terms of mutually beneficial working conditions for our workers. I am sure it is not just true for Philippine workers but also other migrant workers working in Brunei.”
Thus, far, Brunei’s treatment of Filipino workers is encouraging, she said, and explained that “in general, we consider Brunei a very hospitable country. We have not been receiving big number of cases,” in relation to workers’ rights.
The move is an extension of measures already introduced in the Philippines where intending migrant workers including those destined for domestic positions are equipped with the appropriate knowledge and skills suited for their overseas destination as a means to better protect them from abuse or exploitative practices.