Thousands of Kuwaiti workers protest ‘non-payment’


“We have asked the officials of the two companies to provide us the exact number of Bangladeshi workers employed by them,” he added. The official added that the embassy is exerting all-out efforts to resolve the workers’ grievances and that he was hopeful that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour would take strict action against the two erring companies.

It may be recalled that the ministry recently set a minimum wage of KD 40 to laborers to be paid without any deductions, even as the ministry recently closed down at least five companies for violating labour laws. A striking cleaner, who identified himself as Abdul Hameed, told the Arab Times that his company has not been paid its workers salary for over two months and that the company was also using pressure tactics to make them pay the insurance and residency fees.

“We tried all possible ways to resolve our problems with the company in an amicable manner but to no avail. Some supervisors are harassing workers who refuse to pay the medical and residency fees. They are being shuffled from one department to another and this has been going on for sometime now.”

He also added that the company has turned a blind eye to their constant complaints about the abominable living conditions at the camp, even as he said that some air conditioning units had broken down with the company showing little concern in having them fixed.

Another worker of the company, H. Rehman said that the embassy has been slow on acting on their complaints and added that the workers will not call off the strike unless all their demands are fulfilled. The embassy official observed that the residencies of about 170 striking Bangladeshi workers of a cleaning company have expired and the company has refused to renew the same. “The project on which the said workers were working on got over, and the company despite several reminders have not taken any initiative to renew the residencies. The company is accusing these workers of fomenting the strike.”

He said that the embassy was still getting complaints from workers who alleged that their companies were unlawfully deducting their salaries. Commenting on the strike of Bangladeshi workers placed in the Parliament, he said that the embassy was not aware of the development but will get in touch with the concerned authorities soon. Workers earlier told the Arab Times that some companies are deliberately delaying in stamping their residencies, thereby compelling workers to pay the medical fees.

Meanwhile, MP Ali Al-Deqbasi on Monday underscored the need to hold a special parliamentary session to discuss issues concerning the expatriate workers and urged the government to track down visa traders. Al-Deqbasi explained the problems of expatriate workers led to a crisis witnessed in Kuwait last month when several laborers went on strike to demand higher pay and better living conditions. He reiterated his support to the proposed special parliamentary session which, he believes, is an indication of the government’s commitment to solve the issue, particularly imposing harsh penalties on those involved in visa trading.

“MPs should protect the nation and its people. Anyone proven involved in this illegal trade must be held responsible for their acts regardless of their positions and status in life,” Al-Deqbasi asserted obviously referring to earlier allegations on the involvement of some former and incumbent ministers and MPs in visa trading. Commenting on the steps taken by Social Affairs and Labor Minister Bader Al-Duwailah to combat visa trading, Al-Deqbasi called on the minister to exhaust all means to end this ‘nasty’ trade and expose those who are involved in it.

“This illegal act has tainted the image of Kuwait internationally and we should do our utmost to protect the nation since its reputation is more important than that of the individual,” the MP suggested.

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