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Ban on 34 countries puts hiring of ‘domestics’ in total disarray

Some illegal offices make hay while the sun shines

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 3: The hiring of domestic workers is in total mess as Kuwait continues to close its air space for incoming fl ights from 34 countries, including India, Iran, China, Brazil, Columbia, Armenia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Syria, Spain, Singapore, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Iraq, Mexico, Indonesia, Chile, Pakistan, Egypt, Lebanon, Hong Kong, Italy, North Macedonia, Moldova, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Montenegro, Dominican Republic and Kosovo, to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, reports Al-Rai daily.

Kuwait based on instructions issued by the Kuwaiti health authorities has shut the doors in the face of these countries – some of which supply domestic labor. This has helped some fake recruitment offices to exploit the current conditions amid increasing talk of suspicions of human trafficking practiced by these offices.

Reliable sources told the daily what is taking place is similar to the ‘slave trade’ – thanks to these fake offices – which circumvent the law and provide a domestic worker for a monthly salary of 400 dinars. During the crisis, 30,000 residence transfers have been recorded in the domestic sector most of whom are females.

The sources stated these offices require any citizen who wants to employ a domestic worker to accept her on a monthly wage system, where a worker receives between 100 and 120 dinars salary, while the office receives charges between 150 and 200 dinars for its services based on an agreement signed by the two parties (the employer and the office).

Illusory
In some cases, it works up to 320 dinars per month shared by the maid and the office although some of these offices are illusory and exploit workers who stay illegally in the country to take maximum benefit from them in light of the inability of the Kuwaiti families to recruit domestic help from overseas due to the pandemic suspension of issuing visas. In a related context, some owners of domestic workers’ offices told the daily “some companies circumvent the law, taking advantage of their license which they have obtained for building cleaning work to provide domestic workers for 450 dinars per month.”

Meanwhile, advertisements posted by some offices say they provide domestic workers on a monthly or daily basis which prompted the head of the Union of Owners of Domestic Workers’ Recruitment Agencies, Khaled Al-Dakhnan, to warn all such offices that announce temporary domestic workers (daily and monthly) are fake and work illegally under the cover of other activity and hence can be held accountable because they are not authorized to carry out this work.

Al-Dakhnan stressed on the need “not to deal with these offices that violate the law because they provide domestic workers who may be sick or carry diseases, may commit crimes and fl ee,” at the same time saying the citizen ‘unfortunately’ is forced to seek their help due to the current stifling conditions, but “we will continue to raise awareness and advise against dealing with such offices.”

Accountability
He added, “Whoever shelters the runaway maids exposes himself to legal accountability and is a partner in this illegal recruitment business.” In the meantime, one owner of a domestic workers’ office, told the daily “some contracting companies that have a building cleaning license are manipulating and circumventing the law and providing cleaning workers as domestic servants for 450 dinars per month for eight hours a day work.”

He indicated such workers do not possess a health card, unlike the employment of domestic workers’ offices whose work currently remains suspended because of their inability to bring in domestic workers from abroad to prevent the spread of the virus in the country. He went on to say, many female secretarial workers who work for contracting companies have expressed their desire to work as domestic workers because the salary is tempting in light of the current crisis that has affected even the expatriate workers.

In a related context, informed security sources revealed that the total number of domestic workers in the country is about 670,000 men and women, and explained due to the corona pandemic many of them who were on vacation to their home countries were unable to return when Kuwait stopped flights to and from some countries.

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