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Last Updated: Monday, 19 September 2005, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
Kuwait may raise foreigners' pay
Kuwait Airport
Kuwait has a highly mobile population of foreign workers
Kuwait is considering proposals to improve the lives of nearly a million expatriate workers, most of them from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Labour Minister Faisal al-Hajji has recommended days off for domestic workers and a minimum wage for private sector workers, Kuwaiti media report.

Non-Kuwaitis hired by private companies contracted by the government should get at least $170 a month, he proposed.

The move follows a series of protests by workers complaining about their pay.

Mr Hajji's proposals, which have been submitted to the Kuwaiti cabinet, also include a suggested $240-a-month minimum wage for security guards employed by private companies.

Guest workers

More than 1.8 million of the 2.8 million people living in Kuwait are foreigners, many of them from south Asia.

About 900,000 work in the private sector, while another 450,000 are employed as domestic workers.

Throughout the Gulf, these so-called guest workers, many of them working in menial jobs, often make complaints to their own embassies about not being paid.

In the most violent protest, more than 700 Bangladeshi workers in Kuwait stormed their country's embassy in April, destroying furniture, windows and documents.

The workers, employed by a Kuwaiti cleaning company, complained that they had not been paid for five months.

Correspondents say they are fearful of losing their jobs if they complain directly to their employers.

Kuwait was criticised in a recent report by the US state department for not doing enough to stop human trafficking.

Washington has also called on Kuwait to improve working conditions and amend labour laws before it will start free trade talks with the emirate.

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