Kuwait saleswoman accuses employer of assault, denying her visa transfer

Manpower authority refused transfer despite acknowledging abuse

KUWAIT: A copy of the police station report confirming that the complainant had been subjected to physical assault

KUWAIT: Despite frequent inspections by the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM), labor violations are still taking place. Shirin is a Syrian saleswoman whose labor rights have allegedly been denied and she was even beaten at her workplace. The desperate woman told her story to Kuwait Times, as she doesn’t know what to do. Her sponsor is refusing to let her transfer her visa to another sponsor, although according to the labor law, she has this right as she has exceeded the condition of two years of work with her current sponsor.

Shirin worked at the store for around five years and didn’t face any problems. “My sales were high. Even when the company faced a hard time and was about to shut down in 2014, I supported them and worked even harder. But a couple of months ago, a new Arab saleslady joined, who started feeling jealous. She was provoking me along with a new salesman to draw me into a conflict, but I was ignoring them,” noted Shirin.

“One day, that saleslady offered a customer to do some witchcrafts for her in exchange of KD 500. The customer then approached me and asked me to convince that saleslady to offer her a discount, so I told my colleague to stop offering such services to customers as this will spoil the reputation of all the staff. She then got angry and started insulting me. I replied to her insults, so she went to complain at the police station. Another salesman then fought with me when I was with a customer and punched me in the face to please the new saleslady,” she added.
“After this incident, I had to file a complaint at the police station. I asked them to get the recording from the security cameras installed in the store. Unfortunately, they have ‘wasta’ (connections) and made the case drag a long time, as the recordings get deleted after a month,” explained Shirin. The authorized owner of the store license then asked her to drop the charges in this case.

“I said if they also drop the charges against me, I will do the same, but he refused. After a few days, the owner demanded I sign a termination letter stating that I was not following the rules of the store and was filing many false claims. When I refused to sign, he struck me strongly on my face, so I went to the police station of The Avenues mall and to the clinic there, then went to Sabah Hospital to get a medical report, then went to the police station. The police officer asked me if I wanted to go back to work, but I refused as I didn’t feel safe there anymore,” she said.
Shirin also filed a complaint at PAM to transfer her visa to another company, but they refused. “The employee there told me that I can either continue working in this store or leave the country, although I have worked there for about five years. He asked me to submit an adjudication, but I explained that the case is still in court. So now I can’t work somewhere else without this transfer. The company wants to cause me harm and cancel my visa. The employee of PAM advised me to leave the country and come back on a new visa, but this is very difficult, and most probably I won’t be able to come back,” she stressed.

Shirin is now an illegal resident as her visa expired in July. “I was born in Kuwait and have lived my whole life here. Even my family is here, so I don’t want to leave the country. Also, the situation in my home country Syria is not stable now. The PAM report admitted my financial and labor rights were violated, but didn’t allow the visa transfer. I don’t know how to pay my rent and other expenses as I’m not receiving a salary since three months. And nobody will employ me if I don’t have a transferable visa,” she lamented.

By Nawara Fattahova