Standoff worsens cleaners scarcity

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Crisis to continue till end of school year

KUWAIT CITY, April 13: The Ministry of Education is facing a new crisis in the matter of hygiene and cleanliness, as financial controllers have refused to pay any dues to cleaning companies unless the latter pay the fines incurred by them, reports Aljarida daily. The concerned authorities in the Ministry of Education are seeking to address the problem of the shortage of cleaners in schools by reaching an understanding with the companies responsible for providing cleaners and exempting them from some of the fines imposed on them during the COVID-19 period. However, the financial controllers refused to disburse any amounts to the companies before the latter paid the fines.

Workers from a cleaning company wiping the corridors in a school

This means that the crisis of cleaners will continue until the end of the current school year. In this context, educational sources explained that the ministry has reached an agreement with the companies responsible for providing cleaners to postpone part of the fines incurred by them in return for their commitment to provide no less than two to three cleaners in each school within the contracts concluded with them. This agreement would have addressed the employment crisis, which has become a huge burden in almost all schools in Kuwait. It has reached such an extent that school principals resort to street workers to carry out the cleaning work, and they are paid directly by the school administrations.

Based on the agreement made between the ministry and companies, the concerned authorities made forms to disburse sums of money to companies so that they could pay the salaries of their overdue workers, and thus start sending them to work in schools. The sources revealed that the ministry was shocked by the financial controllers’ refusal to endorse payment forms, thus preventing the companies from obtaining the money to pay the salaries of their workers.

They said the continued non-disbursement of funds to companies means the continuation of the crisis of sanitation workers in schools until the end of the current academic year and the continued suffering of school administrations, teachers and students from poor services and accumulation of waste. The sources indicated that the concerned authorities have referred the matter to the ministry to work on finding solutions to the problem.

It is worth mentioning that the ministry contracted with cleaning companies to provide eight cleaners in each school, but it faced a stifling crisis in the issue of providing cleaners to schools since the beginning of the current academic year. This is because the companies responsible for employment stumbled as a result of the closure procedures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered the shortage of local labor and the difficulty of bringing in new laborers from abroad. This prompted the ministry to search for solutions through the use of external labor and direct payment to them.

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