Wednesday, June 20, 2012

DCAA: How to submit a complaint

As follow up to my previous post, if you know of contract irregularities, you may
Submit a Fraud, Waste or Abuse Complaint (linked) on the Defense Contract Audit Agency Website (http://www.dcaa.mil/); however, you should read the instructions first and/or contact the local DoD Inspector General on Arifjan (for Kuwait).



Great advice in the Arab Times "Legal Clinic" today, thanks to a reader who brought it to my attention:

US-based Company Violating Labour rights
Currently I’m working for a US-based company at Arifjan in Kuwait under the sponsorship of a local firm.
Recently, for several days, the company sent us back home because of sandstorms and the management told us that we will not be getting pay for these days. We all signed the contract on a monthly salary. We are working 6 days a week 10 hours per day. Is it allowed to deduct our pay if it is not possible to work due to climatic conditions. Do we have a right to claim pay for those days?

Name withheld
Answer: You may be working for a US-based company but you are under the sponsorship of a local firm. Morever, you are working on Kuwait soil, under the Kuwait Labour Law. This company, regardless of the fact it is a US-based firm and working on a US base, has to follow the Kuwait Law. It can give you more rights than mentioned in the laws not less. Secondly as you are working on a monthly contract, the company has to pay you for the lost days due to no fault of yours. It also can’t make you work 10 hours a day, six days a week. You are only allowed to work on a maximum of 48 hours, spread over a maximum of 6 days regardless of what is written in your contract, unless they are paying you for the extra two hours.

Foreign firms do not enjoy an ‘immunity’ as far as Kuwaiti laws are concerned. The best thing would be to file two complaints — one against the US firm with the base commander and secondly with the Labour Dept of your area

"Base commander" would be the DoD Inspector General

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

My friend.is working for an american school here. She is american as well. They asked for police clearance from DC but Unfortunatly they trick u into working for them then dont give you residency and withhold people checks when the co.owner Who is also american gets pissed off. They work americans like dogs so they quit and dont give them their last check. What can we do?

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 8:47: You go to the department of labor relations (Ministry of social affairs and Labor) in the area in the district where the school is located and file a complaint. You will have to ask around to determine where it is. They take these complaints very seriously.

Anonymous said...

Been in Kuwait for some time. I work for a US company as a contractor. I have not recieved any overtime while working 72 hrs a week for years. I get 6 sick days a year and no holidays. Lets not mention only 3 weeks of vacation a year. I have complained to the contracting officers for the last 4 years and gotten told it's not their buisness, only the fulfillment of getting the work done. Oh ya. I went nearly a year and a half with no visa, cute huh?
I am not the only one with the visa issue btw. The embassey here in Kuwait could care less as well. Do we not have a Brigadere General posted at the Embassey? I would think that post would be all over this.

I thank you for the advice. It's a shame the COR's fail those of us doing all we can for the troops. It's nice to see that companies working over here now fall under UCMJ. That means federal time on conviction in a military jail.

Keep up the good work. Love reading your blogs.

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 10:31 -

Sounds like you have a very good case.

I had a little problem some years back (myself and about 75 other Americans hired by the same Kuwaiti company on a US military contract). Some of us went to the embassy to complain. I NOW know that it is "not the mission of the US embassy to assist in labor-related matters." It's true. What you have to do is file a claim in Kuwaiti court (there is a department of labor or "sha-oun" office in every district) and then perhaps if you still have steam, get a lawyer and sue back in the States. The Kuwait case may take years and you might be home by that time, but you can always file a case through a lawyer with a power of attorney before you leave and they can work on your behalf.

I wish more people would help educate the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and their senators on what happens to private citizens who DO serve the troops/DoD. Being a contractor outside of the US is a JOB; it isn't like we're living in palaces eating bonbons. It's work. We should have labor rights.

K-dude said...

Dear DG,

I know you are not a lawyer, but maybe you can get me started in the right direction.
I was forced to sign a paper by my Kuwaiti sponsor saying I would not sue them if I was not paid properly. (I have not been paid properly) I know in the States that would not fly, if if did, everyone would do it. Any idea if that is legal here?
Secondly. I got a copy of my salary certificate. It claims I am a welder making 600KD per month. Total BS ofcourse. Would any back pay/unpaid overtime/missed holidays
be based off of that 600KD figure?

Thanks and keep up the good work.

Desert Girl said...

k-Dude -

I wish I WERE a Kuwait labor lawyer. I would set up a pro-bono office to assist people with these types of questions. I would also hold free seminars aimed at teaching people their rights. But I'm not, so I can't. Maybe some aspiring Kuwaiti lawyer should do that. Good PR.

The document you signed is illegal. The Kuwait Labor Law in Kuwait takes prescidence over anything else. For that reason, non-competes are also illegal; as are any documents that don't comply with the Kuwait Labor Law(like the ones some US contractors require employees to sign stating that their jobs are "exempt" from the Kuwait Labor Law).

If you are getting paid 600KD on paper(either your contract letter or your offer letter states 600KD) then you will only receive indemnity and overtime based on the 600KD. Do they pay you via electronic transfer? Track the hours you work vs your pay.

K-dude said...

The 600KD is what is on my salary certificate from my Kuwaiti sponsor for my Iqama.
The contract with my American company and my actual salary is much much higher.
So would the labor court base any back pay off of the salary certificate or the contract with the American company.
And that is another thing. I wonder if anyone ever looks into the fact that most American contractors work in jobs completley different from the salary certificates that are filed for the residency requirements.
Thanks again DG and I promise to stop bugging you about this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks DesertGirl

All this sounds great.
Now, my experience with the Shoun :)
My company terminated my services and it's been 8 months now and they still haven't paid my dues. As advised, I went to the local Shoun office in Kuwait City and now it's been like 2 weeks that I keep going there to submit my support docs, standing in line from 8am-11:30am only to be sent back and asked to come the following morning. Most officials there are very rude and keep yelling at people like cattle herders. Sorry, forgot to mention. I'm not American, but a blue collar American educated Indian national.

So, yeah, the shoun isn't really very rosy if you don't have 'Wasta' or a whole lotta hair and assets.. If you're getting my drift

Anonymous said...

I've grown up here. ..now been working since 6 years as a specialist doctor in a government hospital. .my MD degree certificate has not been evaluated by the higher education and ministry of health. ..end result I get 550 kd less than my Arab colleagues...I'm fed up and want to leave but they won't give me indemnity either. ...what can I do to get justice. ..also leaving is an ordeal as exit permit to leave their f. ..g country!

Irfan Sofia said...

Hello,
I am new to kuwait, probably been 2 months. I am working with one of the fashion retails. And we have to work for 13 hours without any compensation. Sometimes we are not getting a week off. Please let me know if you can help me.

Desert Girl said...

Hi Irfan, If you are not being compensated now, you likely will not be compensated later. It will continue. Worst case scenario, if you say something or do something now, before you have completed the 100 days (probation period), they will just terminate you without any notice ("leave now") and may not even compensate you for what time you have worked. My advise: Wait until after you have worked 100 days and then file a complaint with the ministry of labor ("Shaoun"). I don't know where you work (location) but there are different offices in different governorates. You'll have to find out where to go. Either way, you will probably still be terminated, but at least you the company must pay you 3 month's compensation. Look for another job NOW. Shaya is an ethical employer. Try them.

Sorry, but welcome to Kuwait. Land of promise....