By Andy Sambidge
Independent authority for labour will ensure overseas workers get fair deal
Kuwait is to set up a new independent authority to look after the interests of foreigners working in the Gulf state, a senior official has said.
The public authority for labour will ensure all workers from overseas receive the rights afforded them under Kuwait's labour laws.
"Toward organising the labour work force and ensuring that workers's rights are upheld in all cases and circumstances, Kuwait has decided to establish a public authority for labour that pursues the interests of foreign workers," said Jamal Al-Dosari, assistant undersecretary for labour affairs in comments published by state news agency KUNA.
At a meeting with a delegation of officials from Norway, he said Kuwait was committed to "adhering by all international standards that preserve the rights of expatriate workers", KUNA added.
He said under Kuwait's new labour law, expatriate workers "get their full rights at their work places, with full legal recourse to any grievances they might face".
Among these rights is the ability to change employer without the need to get permission of the worker's sponsor who offered him a job in the first place, he said.
On reports of widespread sponsor abuse in Kuwait, Al-Dosari said those abusers "are dealt with in compliance with the dictates of the new labour law and other national laws".
His comments come just weeks after it was reported that the Philippines government could ban domestic workers working in Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar.
US-based watchdog Human Rights Watch said it remained concerned about the treatment of domestic workers in the GCC states and called for other governments to step up measures to better protect their nationals working abroad.
Filipino maids are currently subject to a separate ban from Saudi Arabia after the kingdom said it was seeking new sources for foreign workers.
Human Rights Watch in April called for governments to work together to endorse protection for migrant workers living abroad.
The watchdog urged Ministers from Asian labour-sending countries to pledge support for a proposed international convention on labour standards for domestic work, increase civil society participation in future regional dialogues, promote increased multilateral cooperation, and take measures to eliminate recruitment fees charged to migrant workers.
UAE & other GCC countries should follow Kuwait - The social unrest equation in these countries involve the expats to a very high degree. A society where your worker is happy & has a voice is a society at peace with itself.
The only two countries in the GCC where there has been "social unrest" are Bahrein and Oman.
Both were fully internal affairs, there has been nothing at all involving foreign workers since some strikes because of non-payment in Dubai maybe in 2007.
Do not forget that it is foreign workers who have taken the jobs of the Gulf nationals, it is not entirely internal, it is also because of the influx of foreigners who are to blame for the unrest in Bahrain, Oman, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
As if the whole area would be where it is now if it wasnt for the foreigners. Besides building, planning and selling, dont forget we are the ones who are also buying. Or did you think the nationals would fill up all those buildings that are being built?!?!?!?
We are thankful for what we have gotten here, but we did not get it for FREE! And dont forget we can get jobs elsewhere, even in our home countries. YOU on the hand needs us more than we need you!
Tony, if there were jobs in your countries you wouldnt have been here, at the end of the day your loyalty is towards your pay check, not this nation or its citizens or its economy, do not sound as if you are doing anyone a favor, as you said you are being handsomely paid for it so enjoy it while it lasts, your pay check that is.........
Fouad, and ik: I'm curious - exactly how many foreigners were in the videos and pictures we saw during the unrest? And its funny how the country with the most expats (UAE), saw almost no uprising. But hey, we blame them for everything else, lets blame them for this too.
there is no point for this discussion. Tony, you living in UAE or Kuwait or where-ever, but did you ever live and work in Saudi? Unfortunately, I blame the management of some companies for hiring too many expats in GCC countries -- but its the 21st century, it doesn't mean that you or Europeans are the sole expert in things.
I worked in Germany, US, Dubai and now back home in Saudi. In UAE they have a gap in population thats why they hire foreign workers because they don't have nationals a lot. As a Saudi, I am not with or against hiring foreigners but don't act like the KING of everything and we are under you, because that same notion is whats gonna bring you down wherever..so just chill..be happy that you are here, if your not than go back to your country man. Laters
Nobody can take anyones job in the gulf. All expats are allowed in by issuing work permits. Dont issue them any more and cancel those already issued. Its in your hands not in the expats hands.
Expats will never get involved in politics. They are here for financial reasons only.
@ SSS, therein lies the real problem with the whole Arabian Gulf, the management of most companies and banks hire too many of their countrymen, they even create long tedious processes for the sole sake of hiring more of their countrymen which directly impacts service and the revenue of these companies and banks. Now, is the time for a thorough haircut.
@ik, What planet do you live on? "A society where your worker is happy???" I have never seen such misery in my life from expat workers as I have seen in Kuwait. AND I would not hold my breath on this PR campaign, this initiative will NEVER happen in Kuwait. Kuwait will never abandon their present system, this is just another facade. This new labour law has been discussed for over twenty years. It should happen, but most MP's won't touch this discussion with a 10 foot pole because they fear their constituents on this matter. They should be umbrell'd under the private sector under a government company, my bet it never will happen.