Kuwait to resume work visas as model contract finalised

February 19th, 2008 - 2:11 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) Kuwait has agreed to resume visas for Indian workers after a joint working group (JWG) comprising officials of two countries finalised a model contract, officials here said. The move comes barely two months after the Kuwait embassy here stopped issuing work visas. “A clause in the model contract ensures that it can include additional benefits other than what Kuwait’s labour law provides for the benefit of workers,” G. Gurcharan, joint secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), told IANS.

Kuwait’s decision to stop issuing work visas in December last year followed a dispute over new conditions for employment put forward by India in its model contract. The new contract, sources said, represented a compromise by both countries.

Kuwait’s decision meant a major crisis for thousands of Indians seeking a job in the Gulf country, which is home to around 550,000 Indian expatriates, many of whom work as contract labour.

India’s MOIA Minister Vayalar Ravi took up the issue with the Kuwait labour ministry during his recent visit to Abu Dhabi to participate in the fourth ministerial consultation on ‘overseas employment and contractual labour for countries of origin and destination in Asia’.

Ravi suggested that the JWG, which was created following a memorandum of understanding between India and Kuwait signed in April last year, should meet to find an immediate solution to the issue. The JWG consists of five officials from both countries.

Officials said the new contract agreed upon would come into effect soon.

While speaking at the Abu Dhabi meet last month, Ravi also suggested that there should be a “minimum policy harmonisation for international labour mobility across the world”.

“This policy convergence will be the next frontier of globalisation. Quite simply, the free movement of persons is more likely in the future to be propelled by the labour supply gaps of the global market,” Ravi said.

Pointing out that the rising costs of living coupled with the fall in the dollar had severely eroded the real wage of an overseas worker, Ravi sought to introduce a “widely accepted international norm of linking wage structure to the cost of living”.

The Indian minister also said the workers in the unorganised sector worldwide should also be covered by labour law protections.

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