Working in the cold

Muna Al Fuzai

Kuwait is experiencing a cold wave these days. The weather is freezing, with the wind bringing temperatures down, especially in the early hours of the morning. But every morning, we see workers heading to work in the extreme cold wearing dirty yellow uniforms or old and light clothes. Their choice is limited, so they tend to shield themselves from the wind by crouching on the sides of buildings.

The owners of their companies – either cleaning, contracting or construction – should be obliged by law to provide warm clothes and give them their financial dues on time, and not take advantage of their weakness and neediness. It is devastating to see images of protests by poor workers who haven’t been paid for months. Last week, hundreds of Egyptian workers held a protest for not being paid for the last seven months. Sadly, the Kuwaiti owners are making millions of dinars, but don’t care about these poor laborers who only came to Kuwait to make a living and not to suffer more and sink in debt.

We all see pictures and hear stories about the exploitation of workers by contractors and rich businessmen, which reflects negatively on the reputation of Kuwait, and perhaps even beyond this. It gives a wrong perception of Islam and portrays this as normal behavior by Muslims, which is something that we should not accept.

Charities are active these days in collecting money and clothing for refugees outside the country, but turn a blind eye to the people who are closer to them – sometimes just a few steps away from their doors. Few people give clothes to street workers, and maybe some food in the morning would be a nice gesture. I am sure those workers are hungry and would be grateful if given a little money or a sandwich. This is a kind gesture of humanity.

The society should support each other, especially vulnerable and needy people who are struggling these days because of the cold and possibly delayed salaries. Don’t forget their needs of heating and heavy clothing. Let’s extend a hand of mercy towards them. The cleaners keep our streets tidy and take away all the garbage that gets dumped, especially food, which is often thrown on the streets. These men have the right to be respected, appreciated and get assistance.

Some might argue this is an insignificant and trivial matter, but as long as we are bringing in these workers to our country every day, it is our responsibility to make their life easier. I believe that as much as we need them to clean our streets, we must remember that we also need to scrub out our prejudices towards these vulnerable people.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
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