Kuwait: Expats Continue to be Laid Off

Nisreen Zahreddine / Kuwait Times

Kuwait, Jul 30: The wave of economic crisis-related lay-offs continue to weigh down on Kuwait's private sector and its foreign labor force. Samir, a Lebanese expat, who used to work with an investment company as an IT Manager was laid off six months ago when the company where he works with went bankrupt. He remained unemployed for three months, "I started looking for another job without registering with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs since I know that nothing will be done from that end.

Samir, who is engaged and was planning to get married this summer was forced to cling on to a job he finally found; it paid him a salary of KD 200, which was much lesser than the previous job. "I am still looking for a good vacancy if the situations is revived post Ramadan.

My story is not as bad as my friend's. He has two little children and lost his job got last month," Samir continued. His friend worked as a Customer Relationship Manager with one of the largest transportation and logistics companies in Kuwait. Prior to their move to terminate Samir's friend, officials explained that it is willing to cut down expenses in order to compensate for losses caused by the global economic crisis. Many others shared the same destiny despite the fact that they were paid less.

Peter, an Irish expat who has been in Kuwait since 2004, works with a large food company as a Business Development Manager was urgently called from a business trip in Europe to attend an meeting with the company's board representatives. " I was simply told that the company does not wish to continue its business relationship with me," he said. He went on to explain that one of the board members told him, "You are aware that the company is cutting down on expenses." Peter is still to receive backdated bonuse s that have been accrued since seven months. As per the law, when he decides to either exit Kuwait or transfer his residency, the company will be forced to compensate him.

They are powerful, I prefer not to approach the ministry for fear of losing my bonuses, I want to be pragmatic about this issue." He went on to say that expatriate's rights as a laborer is not given any consideration according to the labor law. "They will pay my compensation but I am worried about last year's bonuses that form a significant part of my salary package." In the mean time, Peter is still waiting for his issues to be settled and look out for another opportunity in Kuwait.

Of late, many companies used global economic crisis excuse to terminate some well-salaried employees and recruit cheaper labor.

John, Peter's friend, who works as a Director of Sales for another food company is an Australian was sacked from his job five months ago. Peter explains John's situation. " A week before his bonuses were to be paid, he was called to attend a meeting and informed him of the termination." Of course, as Peter said, they echoed the familiar 'we are cutting costs' words. John, who is married and has two children, left for Australia immediately after receiving his salary termination compensation, minus the bonus
es. John's ex-employers cancelled his work permit, and according to Peter, he is still hunting for a job.

Kuwait has been a victim of mass lay-offs in its private sector which affects both Kuwaitis and expats. However, the difference being that Kuwaitis are well- protected by the labor law unlike expats who are imprisoned under many restrictions that are no less problematic than sponsorship issue.


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