Kuwait Municipality to dismiss half of expat workforce
KUWAIT 21st May, 2020:
Kuwait Municipality is in the process of finalizing lists of expat employees whose services will be terminated within a few weeks, Minister of State for Municipality Affairs Waleed Al-Jassem said. The minister informed top officials at the Municipality to select the number of expatriate employees that they can dismiss from their departments and that a final decision on the issue is expected immediately after the Eid Al-Fitr holidays, which end on May 26.
Jassem had issued a decision last week to halt the employment of expats at the Municipality and also ordered to terminate the contracts of existing employees. Local media reports said yesterday that the Municipality plans to terminate the services of at least 50 percent of the expat workforce. According to the latest official figures by the Central Statistical Bureau, Kuwait Municipality had 6,800 employees at the middle of last year, and only 900 of them are expats. This means that the Municipality decision could affect as many as 450 expats, at least in the short-term.
Jassem’s decision to dismiss expats was warmly welcomed by a number of lawmakers, who are currently pressing the government to accept legislation to replace all expat employees in the government with citizens within a year. MP Saadoun Hammad, the rapporteur of the Assembly’s health and labor committee, called for approving a comprehensive law to replace all expats employed in government jobs with Kuwaitis immediately after the Eid holidays.
The lawmaker also called for adopting the so-called quota system, which allots a certain percentage to various communities in the country, adding that the behavior of foreign countries during the coronavirus crisis should be taken into consideration. The draft law has already been submitted by a number of lawmakers who essentially call for replacing all expat employees with citizens within one year. In case replacement is not possible, expats can be appointed for only one year.
According to the statistics bureau, total employees in the government and its agencies reached 413,000 in the middle of last year, 76.3 percent of them or 315,000 Kuwaitis. The number of expats in public sector jobs reached 98,000 or 23.7 percent of all employees, according to the bureau. The main problem with replacement is that expats in government jobs are predominantly high-skilled or low-paid menial workers, both of whom are extremely difficult to replace by Kuwaitis.
Former minister of oil Adel Al-Sabeeh said yesterday that Kuwaitization away from competence and commitment to the job will harm the standard of services like health and education. He wrote on Twitter that Kuwaitis should be given priority in employment only when they are more qualified, otherwise the society will pay the price for poor services in health and education.
MP Adnan Abdulsamad said that replacement of expatriates is important but it should be implemented in accordance with an objective and scientific plan to achieve good results. It must also be supported by a prudent political plan. A senior aide to the minister of social affairs said in press statements yesterday that Kuwait is close to abolishing the sponsor (kafeel) system, which is being blamed as the main cause of visa trading and labor problems.
In the meantime, the health ministry has started assessing the first 10 days of the total lockdown in the country amid encouraging signs that the pandemic could have reached its peak and the number of cases may start to decline soon. But looking at strict measures announced by many regional countries to expand curfews during the Eid Al-Fitr holidays starting from Sunday, Kuwait is unlikely to ease the total curfew before Eid.
But the ministry of Islamic affairs has allowed mosques to turn on their loudspeakers during the Eid prayers but maintained a total ban on prayers at mosques. Loudspeakers will be turned on for about 30 minutes to broadcast the Eid takbeers.
Source : KuwaitTimes
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