Domestic crisis to hit Kuwait; Manila holds key

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KUWAIT CITY, Jan 11: According to experts in the field of domestic workers, the market is on the verge of a domestic labor crisis if Manila issues a decision to stop exporting its workers, especially considering the approaching month of Ramadan when there is a great demand for the services of these workers, reports Aljarida daily. It seems that the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM), represented by the Department for Regulating the Recruitment of Domestic Workers, refuses to learn from the mistakes of the recent past, and even insists on repeating the same scenarios known for their “unhappy endings” that strike and harm Kuwait’s reputation regionally and internationally, and reflect a calamity on citizens and residents.

Despite the warnings that the daily repeatedly published on its pages about the return of the phenomenon of domestic workers overcrowding inside their embassies, especially the Filipino ones, and the consequences of suspending the export of labor especially from Manila, which supplies the Kuwait market with about 70 percent of its domestic labor needs, these warnings did not reach the government’s ear to listen and respond quickly. Rather, matters were left to their own devices until they reached a point where it is difficult to remedy the possible consequences, which specialists unanimously agree that they will inevitably be negative in the event that the government does not intervene effectively and quickly to solve this crisis before it escalates, as it is snowballing day after day.

The experts also revealed that a large number of Filipino workers who are currently sheltered inside their embassy in Kuwait suffer from malnutrition and lack of access to the necessary medicines in case of illness, adding that there is also an unprecedented accumulation that threatens the spread of diseases among them. They cited the main reason behind the exacerbation of this phenomenon again as the large number of labor disputes, which, according to recent statistics by PAM, amounted to more than 1,000 complaints per month. These varied between absconding cases and withholding the worker’s passport, in addition to complaints about not receiving monthly or end-of-service dues.

The experts said they believe the reemergence of the phenomenon of workers resorting to the embassies of their countries reveals the government’s inability to find radical solutions to the crisis. They warned of an increase in labor disputes and the consequent reluctance of new workers to come to the Kuwait market because they do not feel safe inside it.

They highlighted the regression of the relevant authorities concerned with providing the workers with legal protection or the lack of proper settlement of disputes that arise with their employers. The experts indicated that the vast majority of these workers have been reported as absconding by their employers, or labor disputes arose between them and their sponsors that amicable methods failed to resolve, adding that the decision by PAM delayed for long periods, without them receiving their full entitlements.

They explained that the continuation of the current policy of dealing with domestic workers, who refuse to work for their employers, by placing them in the shelters of PAM, and the center’s refusal to receive workers against whom absconding reports have been filed are among the most important reasons for the exacerbation of the phenomenon of overcrowding. Indeed, Kuwait’s ranking in combating human trafficking has regressed, especially since a worker who wants to change her employer is punished by being placed in the center until the employer takes pity on her condition and she obtains a plane ticket to return to her country. The experts called on the relevant government agencies, led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior and PAM to quickly solve this problem.

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