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Navigating solutions to the shortage of domestic workers

Domestic labor is an integral part of daily life for both citizens and residents in Kuwait, who heavily rely on these workers to perform a variety of household and care tasks. Despite this reliance, Kuwait continues to face significant challenges in this sector due to the limited number of labor-exporting countries.

Al-Rai sought to explore the reasons and implications of the crisis, attempting to extract some possible solutions. They consulted with a labor affairs specialist and two individuals working in the domestic labor recruitment field. They concluded with six possible solutions to alleviate the ongoing crisis:

  1. Equipping citizens with knowledge of domestic workers’ rights through training programs can foster a more harmonious working environment.
  2. Strengthening cooperation between the government and labor-exporting countries can improve working conditions and ensure a steady flow of domestic workers.
  3. Identifying new labor-exporting countries can expand the pool of available domestic workers.
  4. Permitting domestic workers from neighboring countries to enter without restrictions on their country of origin can broaden the options for employers.
  5. Aligning recruitment fees with those of neighboring countries can make Kuwait a more attractive destination for domestic workers.
  6. Learning from neighboring countries’ experiences in addressing similar challenges can provide valuable insights for Kuwait.

Al-Shammari: Fixed recruitment prices drive agencies to send elderly workers

Bassem Al-Shammari, a specialist in domestic labor affairs, stated that “some believe the crisis is due to the sponsorship system or laws, but the truth is that various indicators point to other reasons that have exacerbated it.”

He added that “changes in immigration policies in labor-exporting countries have led to a reduction or halt in labor dispatch due to international pressures or internal changes in those countries. Additionally, some countries have started to improve working conditions and workers’ rights, making domestic workers prefer to stay in their home countries rather than work abroad.”

Al-Shammari pointed out that “fixing recruitment prices leads labor-exporting agencies to seek alternatives or send elderly workers, whom other countries refuse to accept.”

Al-Rashidi: Four Gulf countries allow entry of non-native domestic workers

Talal Al-Rashidi, who works in the domestic labor sector, mentioned that one of the main local implications of the crisis is the increase in costs. The shortage of labor has led to higher costs for available domestic labor services, negatively affecting personal budgets and causing significant losses to recruitment companies due to limited supply and fixed prices.

He warned that the shortage of domestic workers could impact the daily lives of families, increasing individual stress and reducing their quality of life. He pointed to the decision to prevent domestic workers employed in neighboring countries from entering Kuwait unless they come from their own country. This policy is not enforced in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain.

Al-Rashidi emphasized that the crisis in Kuwait poses a real challenge that requires joint cooperation between the government, the private sector, and civil society to develop comprehensive solutions that meet the labor market’s needs and maintain the quality of life for citizens and residents.

Al-Mutairi: Modern workers will not simply accept working conditions like their predecessors did

Abu Mohammed Al-Mutairi, a manager of a domestic labor recruitment office, said that “the domestic workers families we are accustomed to 30 years ago are not the same as today’s workers, who are more aware and informed about global affairs through social media. Therefore, modern workers will not simply accept working conditions like their grandmothers or mothers did.”

Running away for the simplest reasons

Informed diplomatic sources confirmed that despite nearly a year passing since the halt of new domestic labor arrivals from the Philippines, the rate of workers running away from sponsors remains unchanged. This occurs even for the simplest reasons that do not constitute a problem between the sponsor and the worker. These workers come to the embassy requesting to return to their home country rather than seeking another job.

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