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FIJI: Workers Warn of Contractors in Kuwait Supporting Iraq War

Fijians returning home after a stint from security jobs in Kuwait say their government must thoroughly scrutinise all contracts. "I wouldn't want our local men to face the kind of life we experienced in Kuwait as it only brings tears when we think of our family back home," Mikaele Jiuta told a press conference last night.

Fiji Times
June 15th, 2005

MEN who returned home over the weekend after a stint from security jobs in Kuwait say the Government must thoroughly scrutinise all contracts.

"I wouldn't want our local men to face the kind of life we experienced in Kuwait as it only brings tears when we think of our family back home," Mikaele Jiuta told a press conference last night

Mr Jiuta left for Kuwait last year with a contract from Meridian Services Agency.

Mr Jiuta, who returned on Friday night after leaving for Kuwait in December, said the conditions promised by MSA director Timoci Lolohea were not given to them when they arrived in the oil-rich Gulf state.

"There is no border allowance (promised for every trip made across the Iraqi border), no injury or death compensation.

"These provisions were not covered for under the visas issued for us to work there." Mr Jiuta said most men recruited from Fiji worked in Kuwait while on tourist visas.

"These visas were given to us when we left last year. It is not a working visa and did not allow us to work in that country.

"I really don't know how we managed to work under such visas. We only got to know of this when an immigration officer told us about the visa," Mr Jiuta said.

He said for those who went as squad leaders, work began at 3am.

"We will start work at 3am and drive across to Iraq. When we get to the border, we have to wait until morning breaks when our papers to cross the border are processed. After they process it then we go across into Iraq."

Mr Jiuta said when they got to Iraq, they were only allowed a 15-minute break after their vehicles had been unloaded before driving, most often three hours, back to Kuwait.

"It is a tiring job. When it is payday, either it is less or no pay at all for some of us.

"Most of the men who are there have not got paid at all and we have had to feed them," Mr Jiuta said.

For medical examinations, Mr Jiuta said they could not find treatment by qualified medical personnel because they did not have medical insurance.

"One of us got injured and when we took him to the hospital, the doctors said he did not have proper papers or was covered under insurance which allowed for medical treatment."

Another local man who returned said the hardest part of it all was to hear the voices of their wives and children asking for pocket money and to pay bills.

"It always hurts us because we went to Kuwait for that very purpose but it turned out ugly," Joseva Nadau said. "Because we were not getting proper pay or no pay at all, we couldn't do anything to help our families here at home."





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