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Friday, 05 September 2008

Plight of Bangladeshi workers

Staff Correspondent

Foreign adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury on Wednesday briefed Kuwait's deputy prime minister on the plight of Bangladeshi workers in his country.

DPM Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah assured Iftekhar—who arrived on a two-day state visit to Kuwait earlier in the day—the Kuwaiti government would take stern measures against companies that exploited foreign workers.
The foreign adviser is scheduled to meet Kuwaiti prime minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Sabah Al- Salem Al Sabah on Thursday.
"We have addressed problems faced by some Bangladeshi workers to resolve them," Iftekhar told by telephone from Kuwait City following his meeting with the deputy prime minister.
"Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah assured me that the Kuwaiti authorities will take strong measures against any companies that have exploited Bangladeshi workers."
"He remarked that non-payment of the agreed salaries was unacceptable."
The adviser said he also discussed the possibility of Kuwait co-financing the Padma Bridge, a project in which the DPM showed keen interest.
Sheikh Sabah also recalled the contribution of the Bangladesh during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1990, said Iftekhar.
The adviser left Dhaka Wednesday morning on a Kuwait Airlines flight.
Iftekhar is also scheduled to meet Bangladeshi workers in Kuwait "to urge them to abide by the laws of the host country".
Thousands of South Asian workers, including Bangladeshis, took to the streets in July demanding pay hikes and better working conditions.
According to the government figures, the Kuwaiti government deported some 1,250 Bangladeshi workers for the demonstration.
Demonstrations and work abstention are prohibited in the Gulf state.
The foreign adviser, following the labour unrest, had telephoned three Kuwait ministers and sought their assistance in resolving the problems.
The Kuwait ministers invited him to visit the Sheikhdom to discuss labour and other bilateral issues.
Some 150,000 Bangladeshis, mainly unskilled workers, are engaged in odd jobs such as cleaning and sweeping in Kuwait.

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