Posted on September 8, 2008

Immigrant Workers Pose Health Threat

A. Saleh, Kuwait Times, September 4, 2008

KUWAIT: The Immigration Department is currently preparing a g statistical study based on detailed official information concerning health hazards reportedly threatening Kuwait from certain Asian and African laborers. A department official alleged that at least 30 percent of these individuals, whether visitors or residents, are infected with serious diseases.

The official said that a special memo concerning the issue would be submitted to higher authorities to express the department’s dissatisfaction with the violations committed by some government establishments which they said have ignored the dangers posed by allowing Ethiopian and other high-risk workers into the country.

This was done, said the official, despite an earlier decision banning their admission due to a fear of infection from dangerous contagious diseases.

The official said that the Ministry of Health previously requested a ban on Ethiopian workers entering Kuwait. Only ten days after it was imposed, however, they were again allowed to come into the country, he said, which was a clear violation of the Cabinet’s recommendations and the Interior Ministry’s health and education committees’ guidelines.

In another development, Fenais Al-Ajmi, the secretary of the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training’s (PAAET) workers’ union has revealed that it is preparing for comprehensive industrial action over pay. All the union’s members have been informed of the strike action, he explained, and it has formed committees to coordinate the strikes at colleges and other education institutes.

Al-Ajmi said that the strikers’ principal demand was the improvement of 1,200 administrative staff members’ salaries. He pointed out that the PAAET currently employs 5,000 male and female teaching staff in its five colleges and ten other educational institutions which serve 40,000 students. Al-Ajmi added that he and other union members have already met with some MPs, who support the union’s demands.

On another issue, the director of the Capital Education Zone (CEZ), Muna Al-Lugani, said that the current shortage of cleaning workers is a widespread public problem, with most government authorities and institutions suffering the same difficulties,. The senior official emphasized, however, that the CEZ has exerted great efforts to ensure that all the schools in the area have the necessary complement of staff.

During a meeting with the zone’s school principals, Al-Lugani revealed that the CEZ has signed a contract with a company to supply their schools with cleaning workers, whereby a minimum of 10 cleaners will be assigned for each school. She asked principals not to hire domestic helpers to clean schools or to ask teachers to clean certain things, warning that any principal violating these instructions would be penalized. She emphasized that no male workers should be hired for girls’ schools and asked that two security guards be posted to every school, reported Al Watan.