Abuse of workersKuwait Times, Monday, May 29, 2006Muna Al Fuzai
Today I would like to focus on another side of the abuse of workers in Kuwait. Unfortunately, the mistreatment they get is not coming from the government but from contractors, the big bosses with rich engineers who want the job done -- regardless of the consequences. It is not fair -- justice is all they want.
This time our victims are not housemaids but simple workers. All are men and working in the building and road sector, as well as in municipality services. The workers are obliged to accept the situation or lose their jobs. I guess accepting peanuts is better than nothing.
Last year, there was a ministerial decision from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to forbid company workers performing any street work during the heat of the day. Although this order was not implemented fully by all companies, some of them actually did and realised that it is really unfair to force those poor workers to be machines or worse than a slave, until he drops dead from heat stroke. What harm would be done if they change their working hours a bit, to the afternoon or evening?
I also blame the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs for not following through on its decision and punishing those who don't follow it. As you can see, the weather in Kuwait is hot most of the year. But in summer it gets worse. The hottest point is from one to four o'clock. If it were up to me, I would say it's pretty hot all day long!
Think of the moment when you are driving your car and you stop at the traffic lights. While you are sitting in your car with its freezing air-conditioning you can see workers digging the road, painting or doing something else. All are exposed to the sun during the peak of the day. I swear there is nothing hotter than this time of the day, especially in summer. But we are not in the real summer yet! Those workers are struggling with the bad weather to make a living.
Those workers are carrying out jobs, which you wouldn't ever think of doing. We still enjoy the benefit of their work, when the roads are done and ready. If you are one of those people who spend all day in bed or in an air-conditioned office, then you may not share what those people suffer from daily. Yet, that doesn't make you free from sharing the responsibility to speak for others' basic rights. You are a member of society and we enjoy the work of those poor men. The big engineers made the plan but the workers execute it.
I believe that no matter what nationality or status these people are, we are still obliged to make their conditions better as long as they work in our county. They are our guests, no matter what. I think the local press and NGOs, such as ladies and human rights societies, should include this subject in their agendas. We all feel the heat sometimes!