Minimum wages set for ‘expat’ workers

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Bid to curb visa trafficking

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 2: In a new development that supports Kuwait’s efforts to curb the phenomena of residency trade and fake employment, Arab and foreign ministries of labor have set a minimum wage for their workers in Kuwait, irrespective of whether they are university graduates or not, especially for domestic workers of all kinds, reports Al-Qabas daily quoting informed sources.

They explained that the embassies of those countries will prevent the ratification of new contracts for recruitment in case of lack of commitment to the salary requirement. The changes to the ministries of labor of those countries and the establishment of a minimum salary are in support of Kuwait’s tendency to prevent residency trade and fill the relevant gaps in their countries. The labor attachés in the country have taken new steps to prevent the recruitment contract from being incompatible with the educational certificate the worker holds, in addition to setting a minimum wage for approval, especially the new ones, before they come to Kuwait.

The sources revealed that the Egyptian Labor Attaché in the country supported the direction of Kuwait, represented by the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM), to close the door to manipulation and trade of residence permits by more than one step. They stressed that the first step is to set a minimum wage for its workers at no less than KD 200 for holders of high school diplomas or less, and KD 350 for university graduates.

The sources said, “The efforts of the Egyptian Labor Attaché did not stop there. It audited all contracts received by it and compared them with the titles and certificates held by workers wishing to work in the country. It rejected many contracts that do not comply with the qualifications or are recorded with monthly salaries that are less than what can be obtained. This closes the door for anyone to come to the country without an actual job”.

They indicated that setting a minimum salary is also linked to technical, specialized and domestic workers coming from the Philippines, India, and Bangladesh, as their labor attachés in Kuwait prevented the ratification of contracts without abiding by the minimum wage and other conditions to preserve labor rights, as well as to ensure that their presence in the country is attached to actual job opportunity.

Regarding the contracts for workers from the Philippines, the sources stated that it is forbidden to ratify new professional and specialized employment contracts, if the monthly salary is less than KD 150, adding that this amount will increase according to the type and specialization of the profession, in addition to other conditions such as provision of transportation and appropriate housing.

They revealed about special salary range decided for male and female Filipino domestic workers, as the minimum salary for a domestic worker is set at no less than $ 400 per month (equivalent to KD 120), and $ 550 (about KD 170) for a driver, adding that this amount will increase if the worker is specialized in medical care or for caring for the elderly. The sources indicated that the cost of recruiting workers from the Philippines is currently high for companies, because their recruitment is linked to labor agencies that receive an amount equivalent to a month’s salary and insurance of up to $ 120 (about KD 37), in addition to PCR test fees and airline tickets per worker, such that recruiting one worker from the Philippines costs KD 500.

As for Indian workers, the sources explained that the minimum amount for approving their contracts is KD 100 per month, irrespective of whether it is a domestic worker or an ordinary worker, adding that a higher monthly value is sometimes requested according to the worker’s specialization. There is currently an increased demand for Indian workers of all kinds due to their ability to speak the English language, thus facilitating their presence in some work sites.

As for Bangladeshi workers, a minimum ceiling has been set for contracts at no less than KD 100, but they must be demanded by companies working in the field of services and cleaning. The sources said that there are African countries, such as Ethiopia, that intend to set a minimum wage for their workers brought to Kuwait after signing labor agreements with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and PAM. They added that the agreement is expected to be signed between the two countries, and the value of wages will be determined, starting with domestic workers.

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