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Difficult to find maids during Ramadan

Domestic labor offices protest MoCI decision

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 16: While the recent decision by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to reduce the cost of hiring domestic workers ignited the prices of these workers and left the recruitment bureaus confused, a number of these bureaus affirmed the difficulty in finding labor during the upcoming Ramadan in light of such unclear circumstances and the prices that do not cover the cost, reports Al-Qabas daily. To this effect, some bureaus closed their doors to customers, while others decided to sell their license or close it completely in light of the exacerbation of the crisis of introducing new contracts and the decision to reduce cost by KD 100.

Touring the domestic labor market in Hawally area, it was discovered that a number of recruitment bureaus had gathered in demand of government agencies, especially the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM), to reconsider the decision to reduce the value of bringing in domestic workers at a time when foreign agencies stopped providing such manpower to Kuwait, and due to the high prices, which reach KD 2,000 in neighboring countries for new contracts from the Philippines.

The bureaus stopped signing contracts with citizens or residents who wish to recruit a worker, due to the lack of availability in line with the cost allocated by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. On the other hand, the monthly salary provided by companies or offices unoffi- cially for workers has increased from KD 120 to not less than KD 250 per month and even up to KD 400 for the specialized ones. The monthly salary of a Filipino worker who has about five years of experience in Kuwait, works overtime every day, and does not spend time with the employer is KD 300. The contract for a Jamaican worker is KD 180.

The cost of a domestic worker’s contract on personal or office sponsorship without transfer to a new employer, with the provision of a special room for her, freedom to use a mobile phone, provision of a day off in a week, and a monthly salary of KD 120 has reached KD 2,000 if she has experience working in Kuwait.

In this regard, the owner of a domestic labor recruitment bureau Rashid Al-Marri said he expects, in light of the continuing crisis, that domestic workers will not be available for the month of Ramadan. He indicated that the illegal methods used by some workers for daily work and the phenomenon of escaping from sponsors will increase in the coming days because of finding better monthly salaries. Meanwhile, Nayef Dhiab explained that there is a black market to provide labor for homes with an overnight stay, provided that the office sponsorship continues until further notice. It is then transferred to the new sponsor in the event of an agreement between the employer and the domestic worker. The contract prices range between KD 1,500 and KD 2,500.

This phenomenon is witnessing a wide turnout. Furthermore, Bassam Al-Shammari said the arrival of the new workers, if they reach a consensus with foreign agencies regarding the prices, will take about two to three months, and then the matter will go beyond the month of Ramadan. He indicated the difficulty in adhering to the decision of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to reduce the cost.

In addition, the owners of domestic labor recruitment bureaus objected to the prices mentioned on the “Bil Salama” platform for domestic workers which are less compared to the prices for the same in neighboring countries. They indicated that business owners and new sponsors should bear the cost for home quarantine for the domestic workers instead of providing them with institutional quarantine, which costs KD 500. The owners expressed the bureaus’ willingness to provide home quarantine for their workers, and apply special health requirements without harming them or their activities, as more than 100 offices have so far closed down.

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