KUWAIT CITY, Jan 4: During the Corona crisis, activation of online renewal of residence was a positive step taken by the concerned ministries where many employers and employees benefited by completing the residence renewal procedures online without visiting the offices plus as health safety measures. But some of the employers exploited this service for their benefit by forcefully renewing residence of their maids which turned them into house arrest. Number of domestic workers rang the alarm bell threatening Kuwait’s reputation among the international community.
A new phenomenon began to surface that is domestic workers were forcibly shut in their homes where the sponsors renewed their residence against their will and prevented them from leaving or transferring to another sponsor as there was shortage of maids in local market as airports was shut and reopened with limited flights with a ban on 34 countries flying directly to Kuwait.
Fake offices exploited the situation by charging exorbitant rates upto KD 400 per month per worker, reports Al Rai. Those who possessed maid became a sign of royalty. But instead of finding solutions, the situation worsened where domestic workers had to continue working without renewing contracts as renewal of residence service was made online.
The government procedures and rules stipulate that the residency of the domestic worker should not be renewed except with their presence and approval prior to the Corona crisis which was neglected by automation service. Now the sponsor could renew residence of his domestic worker without his/her approval which opened the door wide to forced labor.
1 – No approval application for decision of the worker during the renewal or transfer
2 – Existence of the contract to renew residency ignored
3 – Workers consent for online renewal missing
1 – Attach the work contract signed by the worker upon residency renewal
2 – Match workers signature on the contract with his signature on the passport online
3 – Contact the domestic worker and ensure that he/she has agreed to it and was not subjected to any kind of pressure.
Bassam Al-Shammari, the owner of a domestic labor recruitment company, warned of the negative repercussions of online renewal for domestic workers’ residency permits, as it opened the door for sponsors to force domestic workers to work against their will, which may convey a negative image of Kuwait to the international community. He said online renewal did not differentiate between Article 20 and other Articles, as domestic workers residence is a fundamental matter which requires consent of the domestic worker in presence of concerned authority to acknowledge, approve and renew residence.
Restricting air traffic stopped visas which prompted around 745,000 domestic workers in the country to forcibly renew their work contracts. Currently workers are leaving Kuwait for various reasons.