Kuwait plans expatriate basic wage

Kuwait's minister of social affairs and labour has proposed the introduction of a minimum wage for hundreds of thousands of expatriate workers.

    Many workers are involved in hard manual labour

    Al-Qabas newspaper quoted Faisal al-Hajji as saying he had submitted recommendations to the cabinet calling for a 50-dinar ($170) minimum monthly wage for foreigners hired by private companies involved in government contracts.
    He also proposed a 70-dinar ($240) minimum wage for expatriates working as security guards for private companies.

    Monthly salaries of many expatriate menial workers, such as cleaners, are as low as $70 a month.

    Al-Hajji said after the recommendations were approved, no private company would be awarded a government contract before guaranteeing it would pay the minimum wage.

    More than 1.8 million foreigners live in Kuwait, which has a population of 2.8 million.


    About 900,000 work in the private sector, including about 60% from the Indian subcontinent.

    Asian workers have staged a
    series of strikes in recent months

    Kuwait also employs about 450,000 domestic workers, mostly from India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

    Asian workers have staged a series of strikes in recent months, saying they had not been paid wages in several months.

    The government has intervened and threatened action against employers if they do not pay.

    The US State Department in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report released in June criticised Kuwait and three other Gulf states for not doing enough to halt human trafficking and child labour.

    Washington also stipulated improving labour conditions and amending the labour law as two of several conditions for starting free trade talks with Kuwait.


    Like other oil-rich Gulf states, foreigners working in Kuwait's private sector must have a "sponsor", a regulation which restricts their movement and puts them at the mercy of their employers, who are often the sponsor.
    Officials have said Kuwait has been cooperating with the International Labour Organisation for the past four years and is considering ILO suggestions for changing the sponsor requirement.

    In June, the Labour Ministry prohibited employers from forcing labourers to work under the sun from noon to 4pm during the summer months when the temperature reaches 50 degrees Celsius.



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