Kuwait parliament okays independent body on foreign labour

September 11th, 2008 - 6:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Sep 11 (IANS) Kuwait’s parliament has approved a new proposal to set up an independent body to deal with issues relating to expatriate workers.The National Assembly, in its emergency session that extended late Wednesday, approved the proposal which calls for setting up of an independent labour ministry or an authority under the cabinet, and to set up labour cities for single expatriate workers, the state-run Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported.

There are around 550,000 expatriate Indians in that Gulf city-state, a large number of them engaged as contract labourers in the booming construction industry there.

The Kuwaiti parliament also called upon employers to pay a minimum of 40 Kuwaiti dinars ($149) as salaries to cleaning workers and 70 dinars ($261) to security guards without any deductions for accommodation, health insurance, transportation or any other matters.

Additionally, the National Assembly advocated setting up of a joint-stock company for recruiting foreign workers for state authorities, emphasising that a five-year ban should be imposed on the recruitment of new workers, except for rare specialties to be determined by the cabinet.

It also okayed a recommendation calling for exposing the names of companies and individuals involved in dealing in residency permits for expatriates.

The parliamentarians, in the course of their deliberations, called upon the ministry of social affairs and labour and the central tendering committee to jointly estimate how many incoming workers were actually needed in the country.

Illegal residents should not be allowed to return to the country, the MPs said, calling for developing training courses for national workers as a prelude to replacing foreign personnel.

The social affairs and labour ministry is also required to ensure foreign workers are paid regularly and to check workers’ housing occasionally, the parliament said.

Later, speaking to reporters, Minister of Social Affairs and Labour Bader Al-Dwaila urged the public to help authorities expose those who trade in illegal residency permits.

The minister said that the government acknowledged the proliferation of the trade in illegal residency permits but was waiting for the appropriate time to expose those dealing in them.

Once authorities completed their investigations into this problem, and charges made ready, all those accused in this illegal trade would be named and exposed, the KUNA report quoted him as saying.

The emergency session of parliament was convened after a spate of violent strikes by foreign workers, especially Bangladeshis, demanding higher salaries in the last couple of months and crackdowns by authorities.

A large number of Bangladeshi workers were also deported.

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