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‘Govt body better alternative to private sponsor of expats’ ‘Protect rights of employer, worker’

 It would be a good step if the government establishes a Public Authority for Manpower. Providing a government sponsorship for all expats is one step toward abolishing the current sponsorship system (see Arab Times Feb 21 2014).

The PAM or the Public Authority for Manpower is supposed to be responsible for issuing work visas and to provide a government sponsorship for expats who work in the private sector. Instead of leaving the livelihood, jobs and the whole careers of expats in the hands of private individuals; a government agency provides a good and fair alternative.

Currently, most professional expats have their iqama or residency sponsorship on private companies and large corporations. However, this system of sponsorship is not effective or useful for expats. Even under the new labor law; many expats continue to fall victims to iqama exploitation. Establishing a public authority to take care of expats residency issues will reduce the number of problems the current iqama system seems to create for thousands of expats.

It is illogical and somewhat counter productive to allow private companies or corporations to control the residency of expatriate workers. As a case in point; many expats are required by their employers to hand in their passports.

Yet, according to international labor laws it is illegal for an employer to keep the travel documents of a worker; whatever the nature of their occupation. In other words, the government can find a way to protect the rights of expatriate workers by simply protecting them from any kind of sponsorship exploitation: an individual who works in Kuwait, whether in private houses or in companies and corporations has a right to keep his/ her passport. Moreover, it is difficult to ensure that all companies and corporations who employ expats will provide them with legal counseling or even guarantee them decent health coverage. A government agency can provide legal protection to expats which adhere to international labor regulations.

On the one hand, having a government body which becomes responsible for issuing works visas prevents exploitation. On the other hand, an individual sponsor; whether an expat or a citizen needs to have some kind of protection against the exploitation by those who work in their homes or flats. As a sponsor; I have certain rights which usually involve receiving decent work productivity from those I sponsor.

Sometimes however a maid may neglect her duties; ignore housekeeping instructions given to her by her sponsor. Any domestic worker may annoy or attempt to tease their sponsors by either neglecting their basic work duties or by simply running away. After few months or years; while the violator of our residency laws works illegally; I as a sponsor have to pay for their ticket home!

This kind of injustice against the sponsor has to end. Including all expats, professional and domestic workers, within an effective government sponsorship system respects and upholds international labor rules and regulations.

By: Khaled Aljenfawi

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