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Current Affairs ( 18 Aug 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Bangladeshis riot in Kuwait: Look from another angle

By Tarek Al-Aboudi -- Al-Riyadh

17 August 2008 (17 Sha`ban 1429)   


THE recent riots involving some Bangladeshis in Kuwait are a cause for concern here. This is not because these people may instigate their fellow countrymen in the Kingdom to do something similar, but because we should draw conclusions, learn lessons and rectify mistakes before they snowball into violence.


Although it is my personal opinion that private companies generally deny workers their rights, this does not mean that I accept riots, the vandalizing of properties and the burning down of vehicles. Such behavior simply mitigates the sympathy and support some people may have toward oppressed workers.


Whoever believes that these laborers have no just cause is no doubt mistaken. Their actions do not emanate from an innate desire to sabotage, but result from the injustices they have suffered under their employers.


Hence, the priority, after imposing law and punishing the rioters, should be to issue rules and regulations that would make delaying wages and maltreating foreign workers crimes punishable by law. It is not enough to compel an employer to pay the delayed salaries of foreign workers. Rather, he should be made to know that by delaying payments he has violated the law and will be punished. There should be suitable punishments for such crimes starting with fines and ending in imprisonment.


You will be surprised to know that a maintenance and cleaning company, which had a contract with one of the ministries, did not pay a single riyal to hundreds of workers throughout the duration of its contract. It told its workers that in addition to maintenance and cleaning, they should do other personal work to earn something. The workers wash cars of the ministry’s employees and bring them sandwiches. After the working hours, they perform various odd jobs to earn a living.


The problem is that when other companies come to know about this, they may be tempted to follow suit.


Some private establishments believe that by violating the rights of foreign workers, they can survive longer in the market and compete with other companies.


Source: Arab News