Minister questioned over delays in payment of salaries to contract workers

MP Faisal Al-Kandari

KUWAIT: MP Faisal Al-Kandari yesterday proposed a draft law stipulating that government departments dealing with the public work in the evening to avoid the scorching heat of the sun. The draft law, which must be passed in the Assembly and accepted by the government to become effective, states that government offices, especially those dealing with the public, must open from 5.00 pm to 10.00 pm in the summer months. The bill also states that the summer evening timing should start from June 1 and continue until the end of August, a period when the temperature soars in Kuwait to around 50 degrees Celsius.

According to an Al-Qabas report yesterday, Kuwait recorded the highest temperature in the world on Saturday – 52.2 degrees Celsius in the shade – in Mitribah in the north of the country, according to member of the Arab Union of Space and Astronomy Dr Khalid Al-Zaaq of Saudi Arabia. Soaring temperatures have also caused a spike in the consumption of power, as the load register hit 13,500 megawatts on Friday. Informed sources said it is expected that power consumption will go over the 13,800-megawatt limit in the next three days. Temperatures are expected to reach 50 degrees Celsius today and 51C tomorrow.
Government offices currently open from around 7.30 am to around 2.00 pm for almost all departments throughout the year, except in Ramadan, when working hours are reduced. Kandari said in his proposal that during the summer months, temperatures rise to over 50 degrees, posing a threat to people’s lives and constituting a huge pressure on services – especially electricity – sometimes resulting in major fires.

The bill provides flexibility to the Civil Service Commission to decide which departments should open in the evening and can exclude some departments which do not deal with the public. The lawmaker said a number of studies and researches on climatic change have concluded that temperatures are forecast to rise rapidly in the Arabian Gulf to the brink of 60 degrees Celsius in the future. He said the law is important for the health of both the employees and the public. Several previous attempts to change working hours in the summer months had failed.

Meanwhile, MP Osama Al-Shaheen yesterday asked Minister of State for Economic Affairs Mariam Al-Aqeel about government measures to force contractors pay the salaries of their workers. The lawmaker said the United Nations selected HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah as a humanitarian leader and Kuwait as an international humanitarian center. As a result, the government must live up to this honor by preserving the image and reputation of the country, he said.

Shaheen added that it has been noticed that many contractors with government projects fail to pay the salaries of their workers on time, which could lead to strikes and social unrest. The lawmaker asked the minister about measures being used currently to guarantee and ensure that salaries of workers are paid on time, and inquired if the ministry and the manpower authority have any plan to eliminate any delays in salary payment.

By B Izzak