The ongoing saga that is the life and struggles of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) in the Middle Eastern nation of Kuwait has seen recent events that give it the quality of a TV drama. There was first the extralegal action of the Philippine Embassy there in recovering OFWs from allegedly abusive employers. That event nearly led to a diplomatic conflict with Kuwait before a new agreement on how to approach OFW matters was hammered out between the Philippines and Kuwait. Recently a Kuwaiti social media influencer made online remarks criticizing the giving of days off the employees and letting them keep their passports. Not only did the Filipino community react badly to these, so did the celebrity’s own brand sponsors.
CNN Philippines reports that in the wake of the controversy that sprung forth from the inflammatory social media post by Kuwaiti online personality Sondos al-Qattan, several of her sponsorships have decided to drop her social media accounts. An online video uploaded by al-Qattan had described the labor agreement safeguarding rights of Filipino workers in Kuwait as a “pathetic film” and disparaged the need for giving days off and not confiscating employee passports. This video has since been deleted by al-Qattan.
However, it is too late where companies like Max Factor Arabia and Phyto USA are concerned. Cosmetics brand Max Factor’s Middle East branch expressed shock at al-Qattan’s comments and have suspended their collaboration with her, stating that her views do not reflect those of their company. Hair care product brand Phyto USA concurs, stating that they have ordered their Kuwaiti distributor to cut sponsorship ties with al-Qattan. Closer to home, the Philippine branch of South Korean cosmetics brand Etude House announced that they have no association with the Kuwaiti influencer.
Earlier, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has put forward a motion to permanently blacklist Sondos al-Qattan as a prospective employer of OFWs. The Blas F. Ople Policy Center, which monitors OFW deployments and welfare, also urged other nations sending migrant workers to Kuwait, to not approve al-Qattan as employer. Fellow Middle Eastern social media personality Khalid Al Ameri also criticized al-Qattan’s commentary and insinuated that employers like her might be a possible reason why OFWs in Kuwait try to run away from their workplace.
Founded over 50 years ago out of love and respect for nature and our customers, PHYTO is an international brand that works hard to send a message of respect, beauty and ethics. We were very surprised and troubled when hearing about the cruel comments made by @sondos_aq and do not tolerate any kind of racism and abuse. Soon after finding out about her dreadful actions, we contacted our local distributor in Kuwait and requested that any partnerships with Ms Alqattan were put to an end effective immediately. We take our brand's values very seriously and will not support such behavior or have it associated with our products. Liberté. Egalité. Fraternité. 🌱🇫🇷
Sondos al-Qattan lately posted a written statement on her Instagram page seeking to clarify points about her previous comments. She explained that the prohibiting of days off and keeping of passports should be universal policy on all migrant workers in Kuwait, not just Filipinos. The passport matter is also framed by al-Qattan as a means to protect the employer’s interest, as a balance to the leeway being given to employees.
Image courtesy of Sondos al-Qattan Instagram page