Kuwait vows to stamp out employer abuse
Kuwait City, July 31, 2008
The Kuwait government has acknowledged that abuses by some employers were responsible for a strike by Asian workers and vowed to stamp out such violations, the official news agency Kuna reported.
"The most notable violations were delayed payments to workers, lack of suitable housing and pay deductions," Kuna quoted Justice Minister Hussein Al-Huraiti as saying.
"Illegitimate practices by these firms and shortcomings in law enforcement by relevant bodies have led to grave violations of workers rights," said Al-Huraiti, who also heads a human rights commission.
The government reached an agreement with the workers on Monday to end a three-day strike which turned violent when some workers overturned cars and ransacked offices before being dispersed by police.
The strike came against a backdrop of soaring inflation, which exceeded 11 per cent in April and May.
"It is imperative that this problem be handled with resolve to find an appropriate solution and hold accountable anyone who defames the state of Kuwait (by) ... violating human rights," Al-Huraiti said.
Labour Minister Bader Al-Duwaila said on Wednesday his ministry would recommend raising minimum monthly wages after the strikes to 40 dinars ($151) from the current level which a business executive said was 30 dinars.
Per capita gross domestic product in Kuwait stood at $30,188 in 2006, according to London-based Middle East Economic Digest, but there is a great divide between the income of Kuwaiti nationals and an army of foreign workers from Asia and other Arab countries.
Expatriates comprise two thirds of the 3.2-million population. - Reuters