Worker Laws: Would it bring betterment in worker’s conditions?
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2015-10-04 03:10:48

Worker Laws: Would it bring betterment in worker’s conditions?

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Things are looking up for the millions of expats workings in the United Arab Emirates following the announcement of serious labor reforms. Coming into effect Jan. 1, the reforms intend to improve transparency of job terms and employment contracts, specify how contracts can legally be terminated and make it easier for workers to change employers.Nicholas McGeehan, a UAE researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the reforms are “a huge improvement and something we would fully support and applaud,” according to Arabian Business. However, McGeehan warned that some of the reforms might be less serious than they sounded. UAE Labor Minister Saqr Ghobash said, “We wanted to ensure that the labour relation is entered into voluntarily and freely, and for such a relationship to continue, the voluntary nature also must continue,” according to The National. Across most of the Gulf, foreign workers are employed under the kafala system; in many instances, this virtually makes them the property of their employers — with hardly any rights and widespread chances of abuse. Hopefully, the changes proposed by the UAE authorities will be adopted in letter and spirit; other Gulf states should also attempt similar progressive changes to improve conditions for their foreign workers. In actuality, what is needed is a change of mindset in these states; instead of being treated like chattel, foreign workers must be given respect and due rights, in accordance with international labour conventions. Organisations such as the International Trade Union Confederation have been highly critical of the Gulf states’ attitudes towards foreign workers. In the UAE, working conditions have at times deteriorated so much that labourers have taken to the streets — an unusual and a brave move as protest is not tolerated in the Gulf. Payment of wages can be delayed while living conditions for blue-collar workers are quite appalling. Living far from home and in deplorable conditions, it is easy to understand how workers’ patience can boil over. Qatar has also been criticised as reportedly hundreds of migrant workers have died over the past few years as the sheikhdom experiences a building boom in preparation for the 2022 football World Cup. Thanks largely to their wealth by way of the petrodollar, the Gulf states seek everything that defines the modern world: skyscrapers, cavernous malls, state-of-the-art airports and all the other trappings of modernity. Yet they must realise that along with the infrastructure they seek to replicate, they should also consider the rights most Western states have given to working people.

 

pk.shafaqna.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Tags:   Gulf ، UAE ، Qatar ، World cup ، Workers laws ،
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