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Expat filing could force clearance from sponsor; Get your passport, Kuwait Minister

KUWAIT , Expatriate employees should get their passports from their sponsors as the latter have no right to keep such documents, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Dr Mohammad Al-Afasi said Wednesday after his meeting with the Health, Social Affairs and Labor Committee in the Parliament. Clarifying that expatriate workers have to fulfill certain requirements before leaving their current sponsors, Al-Afasi stressed the need for expatriate employees to obtain a clearance certificate from their current sponsors before joining another company. “Sponsors should refrain from using this condition to put pressure on their employees as they will be forced to issue the clearance certificates in case the workers file a complaint at the ministry. Expatriate workers, on the other hand, should not leave their current sponsors without informing them about their plan to transfer their residence to another sponsor,” he explained.
Revealing the committee continued Wednesday discussions on the proposed amendments to the new private sector labor law, Al-Afasi pointed out the government and Parliament unanimously approved the law during the first reading, but its enactment was delayed due to the dissolution of the Parliament. “Institutions like Kuwait Workers Union, Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), and Banks Union have a number of reservations on the law. All parties involved and meet international expectations as the whole nation has been waiting for its ratification for quite a long time,” he opined.Indicating the Aug 19 session might not be enough to discuss the 147-article law as well as the proposed amendments, Al-Afasi argued “the government has nothing against the law, considering it is one of the proponents. Our main concern is that MPs might be compelled to rush its ratification. If the committee can finalize the law, analyze the proposed amendments and submit a detailed report prior to the session, then we have nothing to worry about.” He also affirmed the committee’s dedication to complete its deliberations, which will be attended by representatives from the government and other concerned bodies, before the session.
On the other hand, Committee Chairman Saad Al-Khanfour disclosed the committee listened to Al-Afasi’s point of view on the need to give his ministry more time to study the comments and amendments presented by MPs and other concerned authorities before enacting the law. He said the committee has agreed to hold a series of meetings next week – from Sunday until Tuesday – to deliberate on the proposed amendments and finalize its report, which will be presented to the Parliament during the emergency session Wednesday.Meanwhile, committee member MP Dr Waleed Al-Tabtabaei looks forward to the completion of the report before the emergency session. He clarified the government and Parliament had earlier reached an agreement on the law, but other relevant authorities, such as the KCCI and Kuwait Workers Union, have presented viable amendments that require further discussions to come up with a satisfactory and comprehensive law.Al-Tabtabaei revealed the proposed amendments are related to salaries of workers and employment of women. He also quoted Al-Afasi as saying that Deputy Parliament Speaker Abdullah Al-Roumi’s proposal to establish a recruitment authority for private sector and domestic workers is a step towards the cancellation of the sponsorship system.
Another committee member, MP Dr Salwa Al-Jassar, has appealed to the government and Parliament not to politicize the laid-off Kuwaitis issue. She underscored the need to solve the problem immediately through the issuance of a temporary decision to guarantee a comfortable life for Kuwaitis who were laid off from work or forced to resign.Wondering why the issue is being discussed now while the global economic crisis started 10 months ago, Al-Jassar asked why the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee in the previous Parliament tackled the economic stimulus bill without taking into consideration the plight of laid-off Kuwaitis. She said this bill is aimed at helping investment and financial companies overcome losses incurred due to the crisis, even if some of these companies had dismissed Kuwaiti employees as part of their cost-cutting measures.
Al-Jassar asked the government to help laid-off Kuwaitis overcome their financial burdens through the following measures: * The Government Manpower Restructuring Program (GMRP) should study the situation of the laid-off employees and those who were forced to resign through the establishment of a competent committee, which will be tasked to look into their problems.* Provide them with jobs immediately through the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and GMRP, in accordance with their qualifications and experiences.* Impose penalties on private companies that retrenched Kuwaiti employees without any valid reason.* Use the financial and economic expertise of those who retired from the private sector through consultations with the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK).* Work towards enacting the new private sector labor law by revising the articles that provide financial guarantees and prevent the recurrence of the problems of Kuwaitis laid off from work or forced to resign.* GMRP should present a weekly report to the Health , Social Affairs and Labor committee on the latest developments on issues concerning the laid-off workers and those who were forced to resign* Identify names of the companies that terminated the services of Kuwaiti employees to specify the number of non-Kuwaiti employees who were laid off from work or are still working. * Check whether the companies that retrenched Kuwaitis have incurred losses due to the global economic crisis or they are still making profits.* Determine the number of non-Kuwaitis working in the private sector, as well as their qualifications and experiences to activate a decision on the replacement of expatriate workers with Kuwaitis. * Ministries of Social Affairs, Labor, Commerce and Industry should study the current situation of private companies that dismissed Kuwaiti employees to determine their financial, administrative and technical status.* GMRP should publish announcements in local news encouraging Kuwaitis who were dismissed from work or forced to resign to submit the required documents to give them jobs suitable to their professional and technical expertise.

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