Hun­dreds of clean­ers on strike over pay, 15 ar­rested

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Ben Gar­cia

Hun­dreds of Bangladeshi work­ers, mostly clean­ers, staged a sit-in protest yes­ter­day to de­mand salaries, over­time and leave pay. The work­ers have not re­ported to work for the last three days and will only do so when all their de­mands are met, they said. The work­ers, who are housed in ‘camps’ in Jleeb Al-Shuy­iukh and Khai­tan, are as­signed to var­i­ous of­fices and malls through­out Kuwait.

Ma­mun P, a Bangladeshi worker from Chit­tagong, who is act­ing as their spokesper­son, told Kuwait Times the num­ber of work­ers on strike could reach up to 3,000. “All of them have not re­ported to work since Satur­day. We have been work­ing like slaves. We work 16 hours a day, but the ad­di­tional eight hours is un­paid. They have been promis­ing to pay, but noth­ing has hap­pened,” said Ma­mun. “Some of us here have not been paid since one to three months. We want a reg­u­lar salary be­cause our fam­i­lies need the money back home. We also have to eat, and if we do not have money, how can we sur­vive?” he asked.

Ma­mun re­vealed around 15 of their col­leagues, mostly from Bangladesh, were taken into po­lice cus­tody last week. “At 6:00 pm last Thurs­day, sev­eral po­lice­men came to our flats to look for 15 work­ers who were not re­port­ing for duty. They were called one by one and they were all taken to the po­lice sta­tion in Jleeb. Un­til now, we have heard noth­ing about them. All we know is that they were ar­rested and de­tained just be­cause they want to get their salaries, but the of­fi­cials of the com­pany told po­lice to ar­rest them in­stead,” he said.

The sit­u­a­tion of work­ers has been brought to the at­ten­tion of the Bangladeshi em­bassy. Asked on how the em­bassy is pro­vid­ing as­sis­tance to the work­ers on strike, the em­bassy’s First Sec­re­tary (La­bor De­part­ment) Ab­dul Latif Khan said he held a meet­ing with the com­pany’s of­fi­cials. “We spoke to the com­pany of­fi­cials yes­ter­day, and they said the work­ers were paid (yes­ter­day). The com­pany told us that all the re­main­ing dues will be paid soon. They will get all the names of peo­ple who are not paid and they will pay them very soon. That’s the lat­est from the com­pany man­agers when we talked to them yes­ter­day,” Khan said.

As for the sit­u­a­tion of the 15 de­tained work­ers, Khan told Kuwait Times that as per the man­agers, the work­ers were ar­rested over what they de­scribed as crim­i­nal of­fenses. “But I per­son­ally ap­pealed to them to re­lease them, es­pe­cially if the crim­i­nal of­fense they are talk­ing about is ‘act­ing rudely’ with their man­agers. They have a rea­son to do so, but of course I told them to fol­low the rules,” he said. “The com­pany of­fi­cials con­firmed that some of them had mis­be­haved with the man­agers, but we re­quested them not to pun­ish the work­ers with ar­rests. We are ne­go­ti­at­ing and hop­ing to re­solve this soon,” Khan con­cluded.

Some of the work­ers who staged a sit-in protest yes­ter­day to de­mand salaries.

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