Many have lost their job titles, suffered pay cuts

KUWAIT: The manpower authority last year mandated that all expat engineers should get a no-objection certificate from the Kuwait Society of Engineers (KSE) to have the title of “engineer” in their work permits. Indian engineers have been the most affected by this decision, as their degrees should be approved by India’s National Board of Accreditation (NBA) in order to get an NOC from KSE. But most Indian engineers in Kuwait hold degrees that are approved by the All India Council for Technical Education and not NBA.

Attorney Fraih Al-Kouh argued Indian engineers are the most discriminated against, compared to other expat engineers. “I’m defending a few Indian engineers who unfairly lost their job titles after working as engineers for years. No verdict has been issued yet as the legal process is lengthy, but I’m sure the court will scrap this abusive decision,” he told Kuwait Times.
According to Kouh, the sponsoring companies earlier only sought the approval of the employment contract from the ministry of social affairs and labor, then included the “engineer” title in the work permit. “Now the ministry decided to team up with NGOs and demanded approval from the KSE certifying the applicant is working in this field. KSE then demands the original degree and a work certificate to review if the applicant meets all conditions, and based on this they send or don’t send the NOC to the ministry,” he explained.

Engineers also face additional conditions. “Engineers have to pass a test if their work experience is less than five years – those with longer experience only have to appear for a personal interview at KSE to obtain the approval. But Indian engineers can’t go through any of these procedures if they don’t hold an NBA accreditation. This is discriminatory and should be corrected. The new rules of the ministry should only be applied on new engineers and not those who have worked here for many years,” Kouh asserted. “If KSE is demanding NBA accreditation, then it should be demanded from all engineers and not only Indians,” he added.

But an official from KSE, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Kuwait Times the condition for NBA accreditation was set by the Indian government and not the Kuwaiti ministry or KSE. “Today, only certificates from Indian universities that are members of NBA are accredited. Universities in other countries have other accrediting bodies such as ABET for the United States or other bodies in European and Arab countries. These bodies are equivalent to the Indian NBA,” he explained.
Kouh however demanded an academic approach for the approval of engineers. “The approval should only be issued based on academic certifications from accredited universities and work experience. If the applicant submits a fake certificate, then he should be punished, as this is a crime. Some engineers may be graduates from a university that is not accredited, but they are good, so why not let them pass a test? Unfortunately, there are no clear criteria. I think the government needs those engineers,” he said.

Kouh also demanded that the affected engineers should be compensated. “Those who lost their title of ‘engineer’ or those whose salaries were cut due to changing the profession should be compensated, as this has further effects, such as their indemnities. I expect the verdict in the case filed in this matter will be announced by the middle of next year. They should be compensated for the period when they were not ‘engineers’,” he concluded, adding he has more details that can’t be revealed at the moment.

Meanwhile, KSE signed an agreement of cooperation with the Institution of Engineers (India) on Thursday to improve and strengthen relations in various fields. The signing was held on the occasion of the 57th anniversary of the establishment of KSE and the 100th anniversary of the founding of IEI. Various workshops and conferences will also be held.

By Nawara Fattahova