Over a year has passed since Kuwait’s parliament approved a law on the recruitment and employment of domestic workers. The new law was widely celebrated by state officials and international organizations for its “slow progress” in protecting workers’ rights and enhancing a “good image of Kuwait.” However, Kuwaiti officials appear satisfied merely by the law’s existence, so far failing to create a plan to monitor its enforcement, its progress, and its deficiencies.
Migrant-Rights.org reviewed both the problematic and promising provisions of the law throughout its various drafts and final implementation. Below, we revisit a few of these issues in light of recent developments. Overall, our analysis still holds – that even the law’s few positives are effectively neutralized by the absence of any meaningful enforcement mechanisms.
This month, the first public corporation established by the law will come into force. The corporation was designed “in order to control price hikes and avoid human rights violations.” Government agencies own 40% of the corporation, while 60% will be open to national shareholders (i.e. citizens via local cooperatives). The corporation’s performance will be monitored by the Ministry of Interior (MoI), instead of an independent body or the labour ministry or even the parliament. Thus, the corporation is likely to be policed, but not quite governed on the basis of labour rights. Both the UAE and Bahrain are also considering centralizing domestic labor recruitment under state agencies – a move which perhaps highlights the Gulf’s neoliberal approach to corporatizing the function of public agencies. The impact of the corporation on recruitment is something to be watched over the next year.