Cambodian migrant workers are welcome, says Kuwait diplomat

Kuwait is open for Cambodian migrant workers, said the Head of Mission at the Embassy of the State of Kuwait in Cambodia, Zaher M B M Alkhurainej at a press conference in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.

He also stressed on the “consolidation and development of bilateral relations between the two friendly countries”.

Inviting Cambodians to work in Kuwait, Alkhurainej referred to the recent meeting between the two countries’ labour ministers who discussed manpower issues, among others.

In 2009, Cambodia and Kuwait signed a Memorandum of Understanding in manpower exchange but did not activate it, and no worker had been sent there so far.

Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng agreed to send about 5,000 migrant workers to the country for the first time next year, following a meeting with Kuwait’s Social Affairs and Labour Minister Hind Al-Sabeeh in Phnom Penh on October 24.

Alkhurainej urged Cambodians to do their best and be honest when working in Kuwait.

“When [employers] assign you to work, please do not cheat. You must work efficiently. If you respect employers, they will respect you in return.

“If you do not work and make repeated mistakes, they will fire you,” he said.

Alkhurainej also noted that his country guarantees workers’ welfare, and he called on them to report to the Cambodian Embassy in Kuwait if they had problems or were exploited.

“Each country has problems, but we should not just focus on those, but figure out how to resolve them instead.

“Our country hosts a Cambodian Embassy. You can inform the embassy and contact the labour ministry or hire a lawyer to defend your rights when conflict occurs. Our labour laws are based on international laws. You will be safe when working [in Kuwait],” he said.

Alkhurainej added that generally, employers hold workers’ passports during the employment period.

“[Our government] issues an identity card for [each worker] to carry. Their passports are kept to avoid them being lost or damaged.”

On the minimum wage, Alkhurainej said it varies depending on the sector one is working in.“We welcome Cambodian workers to work in all sectors, including construction and healthcare.”

Moeun Tola, the executive director of rights group Central, said Cambodia and Kuwait should review each other’s laws and regulations.

He said the two must establish a mechanism to solve disputes or when workplace violence occurs.

“The government must be sure that we have the ability to track down and rescue migrants when an issue breaks out,” he said, suggesting that it sends 100 workers first as a pilot project.

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said Kuwait had its own procedures and so does Cambodia.

“We will send workers only when all Cambodia’s requirements are fulfilled and we are sure that our workers’ safety, rights and benefits will be well protected,” he said.

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