It is no secret that Kuwait has a lot of expats working within their border.
The most recent statistics suggest that around 70% of the population of Kuwait are non-natives, drawn in by often-generous salaries to fill gaps in the Kuwaiti workforce.
At the same time a rising tide of discontent has been making itself felt in recent months, with ever more initiatives being discussed to reduce the number of expats living in the country.
On the one hand concerns have been raised about how many unemployed Kuwaitis there are, and how these individuals may be missing out on opportunities for paid work to expats coming from far and wide.
On the other hand some authorities are unhappy about the cost of all these foreign workers on local facilities. For example some politicians and journalists have pointed out just how much having these expat workers in the country is costing in terms of transportation and healthcare costs.
In light of these concerns, the government has recently been seeking ways to progressively reduce the reliance on expat workers. For example in order to curb the drain on the Kuwaiti healthcare system a new policy introduced recently means that expat workers will be required to leave the country by their 50th birthday. Of course, figures suggest that it is after this age that medical care costs tend to begin drifting ever upward.
At the same time we reported recently that a significant number of expat teachers are likely to be facing the chop in the near future, especially in cases where the government feels there are already more than enough native Kuwait teachers.
Now, however, the Kuwait Times has revealed that “well-informed” government sources are claiming a further cull of expat workers is likely in the coming months. The new initiative – which has not been officially confirmed by the government at present – alleges to target public sector workers.
It has been claimed that government bodies have been told to stop recruiting new expats, and instead to rely more on the local workforce. Furthermore, and perhaps more worryingly for current expats, the sources suggest that these same bodies have been encouraged to lay off “unnecessary” and “extraneous” expats in all positions except doctors and teachers.
If the reports are to be believed then a time-limit has been set for these lay-offs, which should be accomplished by the end of this year, though a three-month notice period is expected to be given to any expat being dispensed with.
For expats working for the government in one way or another this will be worrying news. It seems that ever more initiatives are being launched to stem the swell of expats in Kuwait and that ever more workers are finding themselves falling under consideration.