By Ben Garcia
KUWAIT: April will be another challenging month for many workers in Kuwait, as some companies have informed their employees that they are no longer capable of paying salaries to them next month. One company “regretted” the decision, but urged its workers for their utmost cooperation and understanding as they all want to survive this crisis.
“We do not know how April and May will look for us if this lockdown continues. We are in a state of fear and panic, as we cannot do anything or get extra income by other means, so I don’t know how we will be able to survive,” an anxious worker told Kuwait Times. “I have some money in the bank, but it can only last a few days – I need to eat and feed my kids too, so we are worried about the coming months. I hope God helps us and has pity on us in these trying times,” said Rico, who asked that his full name be withheld.
The workers were asked to sign a form agreeing to the decision of the management. “I signed it as I don’t want to lose the job. We are all praying for a miracle to happen so that we can get back to normal the soonest,” said Rico, who works in the service industry. But he said he received some good news from his building’s landlord. “Yesterday I got a memo from the owner informing us that next month (April) we will be spared from paying rent. This is a relief for all of us tenants. But my concern is what if the situation remains the same in May.”
Bea, a salon worker, received a notice from her Kuwaiti employer informing her that salaries of employees will be cut in half, since there was no business the entire month of March. “This is illegal according to the labor law in Kuwait, but to whom shall we file complaints,” asked Bea. “This is not our fault. It seems our employer is not prepared to provide our salaries from her pocket,” she said.
“Not only that, our boss told us if the situation persists until April, she can no longer provide a salary for that month,” said Bea. “With regards to house rent, maybe I can pay by the end of March, but not in April. I don’t know how I will pay, since I don’t even know where I will get money for food next month,” she said.
Matthew, an Indian tenant in a building in Salmiya, has been visiting flats in the building to ask tenants to sign a paper requesting the owner to spare them rent for the month of March, April and May. “If we are not going to do this together, we will all end up paying,” he told a tenant.
“We should act as one so we can demand free rental for at least three months. If he doesn’t agree, we can pay the rent of three months spread over the entire year – we just need a reprieve. We don’t know what will happen next month, or the month after. We badly need cash in hand, so I hope our building owner will understand our plight,” he said.
An Arab English teacher from a bilingual school in Kuwait is now preparing to head back to her country for vacation. But she is afraid she will not get paid for April and May. “We have the March salary, but for April and May, it is questionable. I hope they pay it. But now, I just want to go home once the lockdown is over and flights resume,” she said.