Hello Kuwait

From the absurd to the ridiculous…

Just when you imagine things cannot get any worse for expats there comes another proposal to restrict their movement in the labor market.
A proposal by none other than an honorable member of parliament has been made to restrict the transfer of workers to other jobs, and urging the government to change laws to protect employers who recruit and train workers, calling it “a theft of trained and skilled workers” by other employers.

Even though the proposal might never see the light of day, the sheer thought of such a thought process by some people can be so worrisome to the larger interest of progress and development of this country.

The idea that employees once taught by employers have no right to leave is nothing short of being bonded, and when the whole world is discussing ways to further promote the rights of workers, here in Kuwait the narrative is on protecting the employer. The wildly unreasonable, illogical and inappropriate proposal can be termed as absurd in every sense. Improving the skills and capacity of workers through training or other means should not restrict their professional and personal growth in any way; and threatening them with harsh penalties such as deporting and “no returning back to Kuwait for five years” is nothing short of ridiculous.

The proposal fails to address the more serious issue of exploitation and trafficking of workers, rather it seems that these issues do not exist. Kuwait has been consistently working to improve its global image on both human rights and workers rights, by enacting legislation consistent with labor standards set by the International Labor Organization (ILO), and developing policies and devising programs promoting decent work for all women and men.

There are approximately 2 million people employed in Kuwait out of which more than 1.5 million are expats. The government has 470,000 on their payroll, while the rest work in the private sector. Only 4 percent of Kuwaitis work in the private sector as compared to nearly 76 percent in the government sector.

The private sector is the engine of growth and provides the much needed impetus for the economic prosperity in the country. Even if they are only proposals by a lone lawmaker, to suggest them does more harm than good. A better proposal would be to restrict the entry to Kuwait of only trained workers, pay appropriately and equitably for their training, talents, and skills, rather than providing the so-called ‘training’ here in Kuwait and then expecting them to become bonded labor to their employers.


– An Expatriate

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