Kuwait Airways to lay off 1,500 of its foreign employees

Foreign workers have faced renewed targeting in the Gulf region which is suffering from economic slowdown caused by falling oil prices and coronavirus-related lockdowns

May 30, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Kuwait airways foreign workers' layoffs
Kuwait Airways was already showing losses before the advent of the lockdowns.

State-owned airline company Kuwait Airways announced on Thursday May 28, plans to lay off 1,500 of its employees. All of them are migrant workers from foreign countries. The company has a total workforce of around 7,000.

In a tweet issued on its official Twitter handle on Tuesday evenings, the company cited the impact of the coronavirus-related lockdown on its overall business as the reason for the layoffs.

Kuwait Airways was already showing losses before the advent of the lockdowns imposed globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has so far failed to announce any relief for workers in the airlines industry, which is one of the worst affected sectors in the entire Gulf region with an estimated loss of USD 19 billion, according to the International Air Transport Association.   

Meanwhile, Kuwait municipality too announced the sacking of half of its total expatriate workforce of 900, Middle East Eye reported. Several private companies in the country have in the last month also sacked a large number of their foreign employees citing similar reasons.

The fall in the global oil prices, one of the main sources of revenue for most of the Gulf countries, too has impacted the economies in the region. However, the targeting of foreign employees is based on the growing demand for the preference of locals in jobs in all Gulf countries.  

In Kuwait alone, there are more than 3.3 million foreign workers, which is more than 70% of its total population of 4.6 million.

Gulf News reported that some legislative representatives in the Kuwaiti parliament have drafted a bill which proposes fixing quotas for foreign workers so that the demographic balance in the country can be maintained. According to the proposal, Indian workers should not exceed more than 15% of the overall population of the country. It also proposes a 10% quota for Egyptian workers.

If the bill is passed, more than 8,44,000 Indians and around 50,000 Egyptians in Kuwait would be deported back to their respective countries. The draft bill also blames the migrant workers for the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.