Some companies violate rights of Asian blue collar workers: Kuwait Minister


Minister of Justice, Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Hussein al-Huraiti, who heads the state-affiliated human rights commission, noted in a press statement that "most of the violations by these companies pour into not paying the workers their salaries, not providing adequate housing for them, and shaving off fees from their meager pay for no apparent reason.



For such treatment by these companies the workers had to go on strike and carry out boisterous demonstrations to make their case heard loud and clear." These company violations of the basic rights of the blue collar workers from Asia "take place at a time when Kuwaiti legislation has been issued against human trafficking and smuggling in full accordance with the UN agreement on fighting organized crime and its supplementary protocols, calling for the prevention of human trafficking, especially in women and children, and for fighting the smuggling of people by land, air, or sea," said the minister.



These violations by companies that import blue collar labor from Asia tarnish the reputation of Kuwait and have subjected it to international scrutiny, especially by the annual report on human trafficking published by the US State Department, he said.



However there is no escaping the fact that the Kuwaiti constitution and its associated legislations hold sancrosanct individual human rights and the dignity of all workers, "but it is the insidious behavior of some labor-importing companies and the lax application of the law against them that have deprived the workers of their just dues and basic rights," said al-Huraiti.



On the initiative of the human rights commission, headed by al-Huraiti, the commission had lately asked the ministry of labor and social affairs to provide it with all the information regarding this recent outbreak of demonstrations and strikes in order for the commission to study it in an ad hoc meeting to come up with recommendations for a lasting solution to this problem, said the minister.



With regard to the way the authorities handled the widespread and unruly demonstrations and strikes, al-Huraiti said that the authorities had to deal with that civil disobedience firmly, so as not to allow the demonstrations to get out of hand.



The commission, he said, was going to entrust a follow-up committee, emanating from it, to pursue the problems of Asian blue collar workers so as to prepare grassroot level reports to be subsequently sumbitted to authorities in charge of labor issues. The follow-up committee will consist of representatives from ministries that deal closely with expatriate workers in the country such as the ministries of labor and social affairs, the Interior, foreign affairs, Justice, and the office of the general prosecutor, he said.



In a related topic, the minister expressed the commission’s keen interest in the problems facing foreign housemaids in Kuwait, most of whom being unaware of their rights and not knowing how to go about getting due process when their rights were violated.



The commission promises to undertake awareness seminars, and publish booklets to inform these housemaids of their legal rights and how to have any grievances properly redressed, said the minister.


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