Kuwait set to vote on ‘expat abuse bill’

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s parliament is set to vote on a bill that lays down tough penalties for employers abusing foreign worker after US criticism and violent protests by Asian labourers, but critics say it will not achieve much.

The move follows protests last year by hundreds of mainly Bangladeshi workers demanding better pay and conditions.

Many said they could not live on their salaries after employers deducted housing, meal and health care costs.

In June, a US State Department report on forced labour and the sex trade placed Kuwait in the “worst offender” category, alongside Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman.

Deputies are due to vote on a draft next week that will limit work hours for foreign workers, while requiring employers to provide health care and education for children or face fines or jail terms.

It will not, however, replace a sponsorship system under which foreign workers, who comprise two-thirds of country’s population of 3.2 million, must be sponsored by Kuwaitis.