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Cabinet raises penalties for visa trading

KUWAIT: The Cabinet yesterday approved key amendments to the labor law in the private sector to stiffen penalties against visa traders and for trafficking in expatriate workers.

A statement issued after the weekly Cabinet meeting said the council of ministers approved the amendments which aim at “toughening penalties against the violations of employers in order to curb these violations and to control the labor market in the private sector”.

The amendments will now be sent to HH the Amir to sign before sending them to the National Assembly for approval. No specific details were provided about the amendments, but earlier in the day, Arabic daily Al-Anbaa reported that three provisions in the law will be amended.

It said the main amendment stipulates a prison term of up to three years and a fine of between KD 2,000 and KD 10,000 per worker for employers who recruit laborers from outside Kuwait but fail to give them jobs, a widespread phenomenon in Kuwait known as visa trading.

Thousands of foreign laborers are recruited every year for expensive fees paid to the supposed employer but are not given the promised job when they arrive in the country.

The amendments also include closing the recruitment files of employers who recruit expat workers against a fee and still fail to provide them with jobs. Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al-Subaih said yesterday that the ministry has already scrapped the recruitment files of over 650 companies for violating recruitment rules, especially trafficking in workers.

The amendments also tackle non-payment of salaries or delaying the payments. It gives the court the right to add a one percent penalty each month if the wage is not paid on time.

By B Izzak

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