UN official lauds Kuwait on workers’ rights, prohibiting human trafficking

Nonpayment, physical abuse, food deprivation among maids’ complaints

KUWAIT: A UN official praised improving conditions of domestic workers in Kuwait affirming that the government has taken a series of steps at this level, updating relevant legislations and laws and forming the Public Authority for Labor Force. The Kuwaiti government has made much achievements for improving conditions of the workers, namely the housekeepers, in addition to prohibiting human trade, said Dr Tareq Al-Sheikh, the resident representative of the UN Secretary General in the country. He was speaking at the fourth UN seminar on “proper work for housekeepers,” organized by the UN representative bureau, in coordination with the International Labor Organization (ILO), the local labor authority and the UN Migration Agency. The household workers account to 22 percent of work-capable people in Kuwait. In 2017, 678,000 housekeepers were registered — including 51 women, mostly from India, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

On recurring complaints by housemaids, Sheikh indicated that the protests are largely related to employers’ abstention of paying the wages on time, long work hours, physical abuse, food deprivation and lack of proper health care. The Kuwaiti Department of Domestic Labor has been quite active in resolving a lot of such problems and alike cases, he said, noting that the department had shut down 250 offices for employment of housekeepers, reclaimed KD 1.5 million ($4.5 million) illegally taken from citizens and enabling workers to get their dues, estimated at KD 193,000 ($637,000), he said. Moreover, 4,600 workers had been aided to return home voluntarily, in addition to suspension of scores of employment agencies for irregularities. The department had a role in lifting the rating of Kuwait in terms of applying criteria regarding the housekeepers. Up to 16,000 inspection campaigns had been launched targeting these offices in addition to 1,800 legal cases for non-payments, assaults and non-abidance by contracts. – KUNA