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KUWAIT CITY, July 21: The issue of domestic workers blows hot and cold several times and involves the government, the National Assembly and the community, and the owners of recruitment offices and others because there is big demand for house workers, reports Al-Qabas daily. During the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing repercussions, the country suffered from a shortage of domestic workers brought from abroad, due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic on travel across the world, and the reluctance of some countries to send their citizens to work as domestic workers in Kuwait, due to various reasons including maltreatment, but with life finally returning to normal, after the crisis receded, the rate of entry of new domestic workers increased and their numbers rose to 613,000 during the first quarter of 2022.
Domestic workers represent about 13.1% of the total population, and the annual expenditure on this category of workers, based on the average monthly salary of 100 dinars, is about 735.6 million dinars. Female domestic workers constitute 50.1% of the total family sector workers, and the country brings them from about 15 Asian and African countries, but the matter is now limited to three countries – the Philippines, India and Benin. Recent reports issued by the Public Authority for Manpower showed an increase in the number of female domestic workers during the first quarter of this year by 7,587 new workers. The Philippines accounted for the highest proportion – 62.8% of the total number of contracts during this period followed by India and Benin. Moreover, the volume of complaints received by PAM’s Department of Domestic Workers reached an average of 450 complaints per month, most of them from citizens against recruitment agencies or companies.
According to the statistics issued by PAM, the Department of Domestic Labor recorded during the first six months of this year more than 1,700 complaints, the highest percentage of which was from an employer against an office or company, followed by workers’ complaints against employers. The complaints registered with the administration center on the non-compliance of offices or companies in returning the money related to contracts in the event the worker refuses to continue working and want to return to his/her country during the 6 months period.
The authority also referred 71 complaints to the judiciary against workers who left work, and was able to resolve 1,104 complaints amicably between the conflicting parties. Based on the limited recruitment in the recent period, in contrast to the high volume of requests by citizens and residents on the women’s domestic labor market, the recruitment offices are waiting for the completion of the procedures for signing the labor agreement with the Ethiopian side, to open the door for contracts with new workers, especially since the offices are currently dependent on Filipino workers in the face of the new contract signed for about $2,500 (without a ticket), according to the specialist in domestic labor affairs and the owner of one of the recruitment companies, Bassam Al-Shammari.
Al-Shammari told the daily that he expects Ethiopian workers to have a good opportunity to work in Kuwait, in light of the increase in the volume of orders, indicating that the prices will be lower than the Philippine contracts, but the choice is up to the employer and his requirements.
He pointed out that the high volume of complaints registered with the PAM by the domestic labor sector must be faced with more measures that enhance the rights of offices and employers, especially what is related to the right to reemployment, because allowing this matter will contribute to confronting the black market. In turn, the advisor of the Federation of Domestic Labor Offices, Abdulaziz Al-Ali told the daily, that the heavy demands in the market are for Filipino domestic workers, but there must be a competitive market and not rely on only one source, pointing out that opening a new market such as Ethiopia will increase competition and diversify prices.
Al-Ali affirmed the keenness of the Federation and the Kuwaiti offices on the experience, quality and training of the workers coming to the country, especially the Ethiopians, whose agreement is expected to be completed between the Kuwaiti and Ethiopian sides. Federation President Khaled Al-Dakhnan, in a similar statement stressed the importance of opening a new market and expediting the resolution of the requirements for bringing in Ethiopian workers, to create competition in light of the large number of requests. Al-Dakhnan indicated that the opening of the new labor market would be competitive with the current prices, in terms of cost and monthly salaries.