Yet another strike for their rights

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Nov 1 2007

1st November 2007- Kuwait Times
Nancy Otefia, Kuwait

More than 250 Bangladeshi employees working for a local cleaning company near Al Shaab Leisure Park went on strike for not receiving their salaries and being thrown out of their accommodations. Many of these workers have spent a year in this company without receiving any money, while others spent more than two years in the company without ever receiving visa sponsorship from the company. When these workers complained to their Kuwaiti sponsor about their problems, the sponsor immediately fired all of the complaining workers and kicked them out of their accommodation.

Farouk one of the Bangladeshi workers on strike noted that he came to this company a year ago and was never paid his salary. “I have been working for this company for almost a year now and I wasn’t even given a working residence visa. When I did ask them to sponsor me, they told me I had to pay them KD 20 and they would pay me back later.” Then when I asked them to pay me back they suddenly just fired me and threw me out on the Street.” Farouk noted.

Another Bangladeshi in his early 30’s said “We were thrown out of our accommodation by the police last Thursday and since then; we either spend the night on the street or stay with some of our friends. We don’t have any money or food and we haven’t changed our clothes or taken a bath for days.”

Another worker who was scared to mention his name claimed, “Around 20 of us are living in Kuwait illegally given that we have expired visas. Our company does not want to renew our residencies nor give us our salaries so we could go back home. Some of us found apartments to live in until this problem is solved, but the apartment is very shoddy and 10 of us are sharing one room” the worker noted.

Mohammed Ma’amoon, another worker on strike stressed that he had not been paid for 11 months and when he protested about their situation, he was immediately fired. “Our boss promised us a better life and I believed him. Now he has unrightfully fired us and I am scared I might get caught by the police because I don’t have a residency visa. We are not asking for much, we only want out salaries and we want somewhere to live. We can’t sleep on the street everyday.” Ma’amoon added.

One of the workers noted that the company which did this to them is a famous cleaning company.

The above is an excerpt from the today's Kuwait time article.

The laborers strike again, this time in another Gulf State, with no where to go and no one to raise their grievances with, they are forced to take up their own cause. They haven’t been paid for months and have now been thrown out of their accommodation, afraid of being caught by the local authorities. It’s strange these are the victims, yet they are afraid they may get caught. ……….All this makes us question…… How could this have gone on for so long despite laws designed to protect employees? When is there going to be an NGO in place to take up such cases against corrupt corporates? Are these employees ever going to get paid, if they don’t have valid work permits, which mention their employment with this employer? What are the respective embassies doing now and in the future to stop such things from happening?

These laborers come to the gulf with a dream of providing for themselves and their families a life better then they have back home, but instead they are faced with deceit, distress and loneliness. Now fed up, they would like to get paid or go home, but that may be a distant reality with no money, no valid permits and no travel documents, they may just have to wait for their delayed justice.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East