Stock Kuwait shopping mall
Shoppers at a mall in Kuwait Image Credit: AFP

Kuwait City: With visas for domestic workers halted, the average salary for domestic workers in the black market has reached 400 Kuwaiti dinars (Dh4,795), the head of the Domestic Workers Recruitment office Union, Khaled Al Dakhan said.

Since no new visas are being issued and the travel ban is still in place, many domestic workers are leaving their current employment and entering the black market.

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Al Dakhan pointed out that the only solution is to allow for issuing of visas for domestic workers, while adhering to the necessary health requirements.

For almost nine months now, Kuwait has put a ban on recruiting domestic workers from 25 countries, 23 of which are African and the other two are Indonesia and Bhutan.

“Around 40 per cent of domestic workers’ visas have expired and so they want to leave, but because of the lack of domestic workers the employers are unwilling to end the contract,” Al Dakhan told Al Rai.

As Bahrain and Saudi Arabia resume domestic workers’ visas, Al Dakhan explained that “the longer the doors are shut it will harm Kuwaiti citizens. Even if they begin reissuing visas we will be facing a problem as most of the domestic workers would have left to neighbouring counties.”

Black market surge

Due to the closure of recruitment agencies, brokers have been providing domestic workers’ services illegally and at a high price, thus taking advantage of the lack of competition.

These brokers have been advertising the services of domestic workers for 25 Kuwaiti dinars per hour and 250 Kuwaiti dinars per month.

The illegal domestic workers’ network divides the sum between the broker and the domestic worker. The domestic worker gets 10 Kuwaiti dinars for four hours of work and 15 Kuwait dinars goes to the broker, a source told Al Qabas.

A source from the Public Authority for Manpower pointed out that the domestic workers entered Kuwait through recruitment agencies and then they quit their jobs, thinking that they will be able to make more money working for various employers rather than just one.

Previous recruitment bans

This is not the first time Kuwait has placed a ban on recruitment of domestic workers from abroad.

In April 2019, Kuwait added Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Bhutan, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to the list of banned countries bringing the total to 20. According to Migrant Rights, the bans are put in place mainly due to the fact that these countries lack embassies and labour corporations in Kuwait.

Earlier this year, the Philippines temporarily halted the recruitment of domestic workers to Kuwait after a Filipino domestic worker was sexually abused and killed by her employer.

In an interview with Al Jarida, Al Dakhan mentioned that Filipinos make up the largest number of domestic workers, followed by Sri Lankans.