KUWAIT: From March 1, 2016, expats aged above 50 will be forced to retire from public sector jobs under a new measure announced to reduce the number of foreign workers in government establishments. The new measure, to be implemented by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), will help Kuwaiti graduates who need jobs and are on the CSC waiting list to gain employment.
The decision though will not be implemented until the new manpower is hired and trained accordingly. The ministry of education held a press conference last week, where public education undersecretary Fatma Al-Kandari reiterated the sincerity of the Kuwaiti government to implement the new rules. She announced 25 percent of expat teachers at the ministry will be laid off by the end of 2017 (the end of the new academic year). She said expat teachers that can be replaced by Kuwaiti teachers like those for social studies, Arabic and Islamic subjects will be notified three months prior to the termination of their contracts.
The new measure elicited mixed reaction from the expat community in Kuwait. An Egyptian teacher, aged 53, told Kuwait Times yesterday he won’t be affected. “I am safe from the new rules because I teach specialized English literature,” he said. “There are shortages of Kuwaiti English teachers, so we are okay. But I have heard they have a list of expats teachers who will be gradually terminated because they said they are serious on implementing the new guidelines, so we just have to face the reality.”
An Egyptian lawyer who spoke on condition of anonymity does not believe anything will happen. “I don’t think it is possible. Fifty years is too early to retire – it is when they are just starting to be productive and serious in their line of work. We don’t see it happening soon. We know they cannot implement it because I think it is hard on their part, as they will be forced to cut short the services of many expats who have experience which could be used by the ministries for better services and functions. They need the expertise and experienced old workers, and if you remove them from the workforce, your department will be in trouble in the short term,” he added.
A dentist from the Philippines, aged 51, said he is readying for the moment when Kuwait kicks him out from the ministry of health. “This is exactly what I am preparing for nowadays. I am in the mood to work, but in order to accept fate, I am also preparing myself for my eventual reintegration back in my home country,” he said.
The dentist said he has bought several dental chairs so he could prepare in the event that the new rules will be implemented. “I am now preparing to set up my own dental clinic in Manila. All of us expats must understand that we are foreigners and we serve at the mercy of our employers and the country we live in. Our mindsets should be that we are not permanent in this country – eventually, we are heading home, so my fellow countrymen should prepare for relocation to our home country, either by saving or readying ourselves. We cannot blame Kuwait for its decision since it has to prioritize its workforce that needs jobs, especially since many are graduating yearly and are ready to work, but there are no vacancies for them. I personally believe older workers must give way to younger ones – you’ll be getting rid of older but experienced ones but you’ll be welcoming new and dynamic blood as well,” he said.
Young, qualified and unemployed Kuwaitis with university, medium and lesser degrees number more than 20,000. Earlier regulations allowed expats to work till the age of 60 or more in both private and government sectors, provided they are still able to do so. The new CSC order is only for public sector jobs.
By Ben Garcia