Wednesday, August 27, 2014
More Kuwait Labor Problems
This article was in the Arab Times today:
Disgruntled Cleaning Company Workers Seek Backpay, Justice
Basic Rights Violated In Massive Exploitation
KUWAIT CITY, Aug 26: Two managers and dozens of employees working for one of the cleaning companies reportedly refused to go to work and stayed put at their accommodation in Hassawi because the company has not paid them their salaries for two months, reports Al-Qabas daily.
The daily added, some of them even complained that the company is refusing to grant them annual leave and that some of them have not visited their families for the past eight or nine years. The workers also complained that they are deprived of their basic rights, particularly any sort of leave, even in the event of death of close relative including father and mother.
The workers say if they apply for one month leave they are required to deposit with the company KD 120 and for two months KD 240. This is in addition to forcing them to sign a document prior to proceeding on leave stating they have received all their dues.
This kind of thing goes on - unchecked - all the time. It doesn't just happen to low-level employees (although their living situations are must worse and they can do very little until the actually tipping point), but also to expats in general. Finding a company that pays consistently, on time, and gives employees their basic rights is RARE in Kuwait. Sad, but true. Once you find an ethical company, you're really reluctant to leave them.
The Government and media has been talking talking talking about this problem for years; yet very little has been done to rectify the situation.
For example, if I, as an employee, want to voice a complaint against my employer (and this is a what-if scenario because ThanksToAllah, the company I work for is one of those rare companies I mentioned that does things ethically): I have to go to the ministry of social affairs and labor and lodge a complaint. My employer would immediately know. They could find another reason to terminate my employment - and it might be something like a criminal charge; putting me in real jeopardy (and slapping on a travel ban - then what? Stuck with no employment?). So, many employees shut up and take it, hoping that their employer will pay.
I don't understand why Kuwait can't have a hotline like they do in the States. (See the US Department of Labor's poster, which should be posted at workplaces in the US HERE.)
Why all the years of talk? Why no action? Am I missing something?