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Suspension of domestic labor visa issuance has revived its black market

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 18: The black market for domestic workers has flourished due to the continued closure of domestic labor offices and the recruitment of workers from abroad despite the ongoing fight against COVID-19, reports Al-Qabas daily.

Taking advantage of the need and the lack of competition, the work of brokers who illegally provide labor for domestic services at high prices has increased.

While the Domestic Labor Recruitment Department and the Residency Affairs Investigation Department are making efforts to control the number of marginal labor working in the field of domestic services, advertisements for the employment of female workers and their home delivery are still continuing. The cost of the service for a period of four hours has reached KD 25, and KD 250 per month.

According to security sources, illegal domestic labor networks provide African and Asian domestic workers to work at home and the sums are shared with them. A worker gets KD 10 for her 4-hour work and the broker gets KD 15.

They said the Residency Affairs Department, in coordination with the Public Authority for Manpower, has seized a set of networks for employing illegal domestic workers, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that 90 percent of female workers in the field are in violation of the residency and labor laws.

Absconding notices

The sources said female workers who were reported as absconding prior to the COVID-19 pandemic or had fled during the pandemic as well as those who were working in cleaning companies and whose residencies have expired were all transferred for deportation, and their sponsors, either citizens or companies, were summoned for legal measures if their involvement in the employment is proven.

According to a source in the Public Authority for Manpower, this type of workers entered the country through recruitment agencies and then fled to work under the domestic labor employment gangs under the assumption that they would make more money.

Inspection teams

He explained that inspection teams, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, used to arrest female workers who held domestic visas but worked in salons, cafes and restaurants. With the closure that took place due to the crisis, most of them shifted to work in homes or companies on a demand basis. However, the cooperation with the Ministry of Interior contributed to arresting more than 40 violators after receiving reports, and constantly monitoring operating advertisements, and taking necessary action.

Going after advertisers

The source affirmed that the Assistant Undersecretary for Labor Protection Affairs at the Public Authority for Manpower Dr. Mubarak Al-Azmi, in coordination with the Ministry of Interior, forced several advertising apps to prohibit any advertisement related to domestic labor employment services or other such services and items that are deemed as legal violations.

He explained that the communication network is now free of employment advertisements, but some people publish ads from another country which appear in Kuwait. This is being followed up with Twitter and Instagram companies to stop such activities, and then follow it up internally to control the network.

Some individuals have been sending advertisement messages via private messaging systems to escape from being followed up, but such messages are also being followed up based on the complaints that are received.

The need is urgent

In a statement, Chairman of the Union of Domestic Labor Offices Khaled Al-Dakhnan said he believes there is currently a need to reopen the door for issuance of permits for domestic workers due to the citizens’ need for them.

He suggested that a worker should be placed under quarantine upon arrival in the country, but should have a certificate to affirm that he/she is free of contagious diseases.

 As for whether there is a link between the COVID-19 crisis and an expected rise in domestic labor prices, Al-Dakhnan said, “The union is committed to anything that is issued by the state. It also seeks to reduce prices and fight against their manipulation.”

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