Labor market

Muna Al-Fuzai

Since the past few years, the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) has tried to regulate the labor market in Kuwait by applying laws to achieve public interest, taking the necessary decisions to address the imbalance in demographics and preserve the rights of workers and Kuwait’s international reputation in front of human rights organizations, especially with regards to visa traders.

However, the road is still long and there are those who exploit and violate the law, which is expected under the reality of corruption, but we should not be complacent. Inspection campaigns recently by the manpower authority at the worksites of the Ministries Complex led to the arrest of 43 workers in violation of article 18, seven workers in violation of article 20 and some other violators.

The deputy director general of PAM’s planning and development division said the inspection campaigns are within the framework of the application of the provisions of labor law no. 6 of 2010 and the domestic employment act no. 68 of 2015 to prevent irregularities. He added the authority is working to intensify inspection campaigns at all worksites and commercial complexes to ensure the application of the provisions of the law and regulate and control the labor market.

It is worth mentioning that in the file of international relations, efforts exerted by Kuwait in regulating the labor market and protecting the labor force have been commended. Forty workers have been sent back home through the implementation of a voluntary repatriation project in cooperation between the shelter and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the creation of job opportunities through the shelter for 101 female workers who want to continue working in Kuwait.
I think Kuwait is still attractive for expatriate workers. In 2017, BMI International said in a study that Kuwait has a relatively safe operating environment. In the report, BMI, which is a subsidiary of Fitch, identified a number of attractive factors and challenges to improve operational risks in Kuwait. According to the report, the infrastructure is good, but needs constant development in the face of some challenges such as tightening of policies for foreign investment.

I believe it is unreasonable to establish a free economic zone that does not have facilities, services and logistical support, as well as the availability of public facilities and means of transportation, along with the absence of taxes that should be an attractive factor. I believe that the state should work to improve the business environment and facilitate procedures for small business owners as well as attract foreign investors and engage expatriate workers and citizens in an equal, just and beneficial manner.

As for the imbalance in the demographic structure, I do not believe expatriates have a hand in it. This issue of imbalance in the population structure has been on the table since the 1970s. It is known that demographic imbalance is caused by government policies supported by visa trade, and expatriates and citizens are both victims of such policies. The solution is easy – by monitoring companies and workers’ rights, especially financial and humanitarian.

I think that one of the most important achievements of the authority is the electronic link between the authority and official bodies for queries and data extraction, which helps in checking the conditions of workers and busting false guarantees. In addition, approximately 450,000 Kuwaitis under the age of 20 are entering the labor market, so the improvement of the work environment is important. The needs and skills needed by the state should be considered, whether for expatriates or citizens.

I think that the National Assembly should work to develop a system of economic legislation in conjunction with the legislative authority and the private sector. The efforts of the public authority for manpower are good, but continuing cooperation with all official authorities is necessary to regulate the labor market.

By Muna Al-Fuzai