Kuwait restaurants strike back against over 60 expat ban, warn business under threat

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The Kuwait Restaurants Union has released a memo criticizing the government’s announcement that it would stop issuing work permits for expats aged over 60 without a university degree, saying that the move threatens the restaurant industry, the Kuwait-based newspaper Kuwait Times reported Thursday.

The memo said that the ban “goes far beyond regulating the relationship between employers and employees,” adding that the new decree would allow the government to control and issue bans at will “in violation of laws and the constitution under the excuse of adjusting Kuwait’s demography,” the Times said.

Work permits for over 60s without a university degree will no longer be issued from January 1, 2021, with the ruling applying to all those who hold a higher secondary certificate or lower.

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The new rules are likely part of a government plan to cut the overall number of expats in the country by as much as 360,000 workers. According to this plan, 150,000 of these will be expats aged over 60.

The union said that Kuwait’s demographic challenges should be fixed through other solutions, including monitoring the market’s need of laborers, legal monitoring, and holding visa traffickers and fake companies “that have been swarming the country with excessive numbers of laborers” to account, the Times said.

The organization added that the new rules ignore employer’s rights to control their relationship with employees, noting that the safety and continuation of businesses and projects will come under threat in a year that has already seen intense pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Authorities in Kuwait have been proceeding with legislation to cut the number of expats in the country.

In July, a panel vowed to find a plan to cut expats after criticism was leveled at the government for failing to come up with its own solution to reduce expat numbers.

Expats currently form around 70 percent of Kuwait’s population.

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