Efforts on to defuse labour tension in Kuwait
Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Demand for higher wages, better working conditions

Staff Correspondent

Foreign affairs adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury Monday called the Kuwaiti ambassador in Dhaka to the foreign ministry and sought his government's support in resolving the problems of Bangladeshi workers in Kuwait.

The adviser and Kuwaiti ambassador Abdullatif Ali Al-Mawash held talks, as thousands of Bangladeshi workers went on strike in Kuwait demanding higher wages and better working conditions.

Most Bangladeshi workers in Kuwait work as cleaner, mechanic or construction worker for Tk 2,000 ($30) a month, according to media reports.

"I have invited the Kuwaiti ambassador to my office and we discussed the problems of Bangladeshi workers in Kuwait," Iftekhar told bdnews24.com Monday.

"We also discussed the possibility of a visit by the foreign adviser to Kuwait at an early date," the ambassador told reporters after the meeting with the adviser.

Iftekhar said diplomatic efforts were on to resolve the crisis.

"I have talked to the Bangladesh embassy officials in Kuwait. They are maintaining a regular contact with Kuwaiti officials," the adviser said.

"We have proved that the problems of the workers can be resolved through diplomatic means. Bahrain, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia (to some extent) are the examples," Iftekhar said.

The Arab Times reported said the cabinet would discuss a recent string of strikes by foreign workers at its weekly meeting on Monday, while parliament deputies demanded action.

"How can we survive on 8 dinars ($30.12) a month, and suffer mistreatment on top of that," a worker told the Kuwait Times.

The paper quoted workers as saying they had been contracted for a monthly salary of 50 dinars, but were only being paid 20 dinars, from which their employers deducted 12 dinars every month for a visa residency charge.

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