KUWAIT: A schoolgirl speaks during the annual ‘Student Parliament’ session at the National Assembly yesterday. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat (See Page 3)

KUWAIT: Rapporteur of the National Assembly’s health and labor committee MP Osama Al-Shaheen yesterday warned the government of a serious political confrontation including grillings over the controversial amendments to the labor law in the private sector. Shaheen said the committee received a letter from Minister of State for Economic Affairs Mariam Al-Aqeel saying the government totally rejects the amendments to the labor law, even though the committee agreed to maintain annual leave at the original 30 days instead of 35.

The lawmaker said although the committee adopted the 30-day annual leave, it also insisted that “rest days”, which include Fridays and Saturdays for companies that adopt a two-day weekend and public holidays, will not be counted among the annual leave. Shaheen said the amendments to the labor law were approved in the first reading unanimously without any objections by the government or MPs, and moves against the amendments began later.

He said that the other amendment calls for paying Kuwaitis in the private sector full end of service indemnity without any deduction towards social security, and this amendment applies with retroactive effect from 2010 when the new labor law was issued. He said lawmakers are insisting on the retroactive effect of this amendment as a way of paying full rights to Kuwaiti employees.
Shaheen warned the government that MPs may resort to grillings if the government does not change its decision, which works against the main objectives of attracting Kuwaitis to the private sector, where some 95.6 percent are expatriates.

Head of the Assembly’s human resources development panel MP Khalil Al-Saleh said the appointment of expatriates in public sector jobs has increased, and charged the government of failing to do enough to create more jobs for citizens. The Assembly is expected to hold a special debate tomorrow on unemployment among Kuwaitis and MPs have asked the government to come with complete information and data.

In another development, several MPs yesterday called on the Assembly to approve a draft law granting civil and social rights to stateless people (bedoons), who have been living in the country without nationality for decades. MP Adnan Abdulsamad criticized those who have been leading a campaign against the law, saying that the bill does not call for or facilitate granting citizenship to bedoons, but only provide them with basic human rights. MPs Mohammad Hayef and Abdullah Fahhad urged their colleagues to vote for the law and labeled as racists those who are mounting attacks against thousands of bedoons in the country.

By B Izzak