Demand for Arrears, Work Permit: Anger, chaos in Kuwait | Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 19, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:40 AM, January 19, 2019

Demand for Arrears, Work Permit: Anger, chaos in Kuwait

Bangladeshi workers vandalise Bangladesh mission, beat up senior diplomat

Angry Bangladeshi workers vandalised the Bangladesh Embassy in Kuwait and beat up a senior diplomat and several other employees demanding salary arrears and work permit from their local employers on Thursday.

They also damaged furniture and fixtures of the embassy, diplomats said.

Diplomats and witnesses said about 300 to 400 demonstrators suddenly turned violent and seriously injured Counsellor and Head of Chancery Md Anisuzzaman.

Ambassador SM Abul Kalam said he saw several hundred Bangladeshi migrant workers assembled in front of his office Thursday morning.

He tried to ask the protesters what was going on but it was impossible to understand any words as many people started talking together, Kalam told The Daily Star yesterday over the phone.

He then invited a delegation to go inside his office.

Around a dozen workers went inside the embassy and told officials that their Kuwaiti employer, a company named Lesco, have not paid them in three months.

The workers also alleged that the company had not been renewing their expired work permits or issuing new ones for newly arrived workers.

The workers told the ambassador that they had decided not to work until the issues had been solved.

Kalam then assured the workers that the embassy would look into the matter immediately and advised them to go back to work. The workers then came out of the embassy but stayed outside instead of going back.

The embassy, meanwhile, contacted the company, which instantly sent its operations manager to discuss the situation.

During the talks, the manager informed the ambassador that the Kuwait Government had earlier suspended the operation of their company and frozen their accounts. But the government recently withdrew the suspension and it would start operating in full-swing soon.

The operation manager said the management could not pay the workers for last three months due to frozen accounts.

The manager also wrote an undertaking to the embassy stating that the salaries and other dues would be paid on February 5 while the expired work permits would be renewed in 15 days.

The manager of the company was leaving the embassy but the agitating workers forced him to go back.

The embassy officials then told the workers about the settlement and undertaking but the workers forcibly entered the embassy in their dozens and attacked the officials.

Besides injuring Anisuzzaman and others, they damaged the computers and other expensive equipment, said the Ambassador.

He added that the officials then called the police. After police came and brought the situation under control and arrested several workers, the officials filed two cases, one for injuring the employees and another for vandalism.

Police told Kalam that they would take action after looking at security camera footage.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen urged all Bangladesh missions and expatriate Bangladeshis to avoid repetition of any such incident.

A foreign ministry press release issued yesterday said the government and the embassy in Kuwait were trying to get the arrested Bangladeshi workers released.

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