The Financial Express

Qatari move to benefit migrant labour

Arab peninsula to abolish decades-old sponsorship

| Updated: October 19, 2019 14:40:47

File Photo (Collected) File Photo (Collected)

The Qatari announcement of the reform of its labour rules has created a possibility of protecting rights of foreign workers, including Bangladeshis.

With this latest move, the Arab peninsula is going to abolish its seven-decade kafala (sponsorship) system, according to a release issued by ILO Dhaka office.

Migrant workers will be allowed to change their jobs through the elimination of this mechanism, it said.

On October 16, the state's council of ministers unanimously approved the new legislation that is set to come into effect in January 2020.

It also endorsed a new law to introduce "a non-discriminatory minimum wage", the first of its kind in the Middle East.

Workers in Qatar had previously required a no-objection certificate from their employer.

A ministerial decree was also signed, removing exit permit requirements for all workers, except military personnel.

All these steps mark the end of the kafala system in the oil-rich Gulf country.

It emerged in the 1950s to provide temporary, rotating labour that could be rapidly brought into the country during periods of economic boom and expelled during low-growth periods.

It remains a routine practice in the remaining Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries as well as Jordan and Lebanon.

"The ILO welcomes these reforms and recognises the commitment of Qatar to transforming its labour market," said ILO director general Guy Ryder.

"These steps will greatly support the rights of migrant workers, while contributing to a more efficient and productive economy."

These reforms will affect approximately 400,000 Bangladeshi workers in Qatar, 75 per cent of whom are employed in the construction sector, said ILO Bangladesh country director Tuomo Poutiainen.


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