GCC countries liberalising movement of workers: ILO

ABU DHABI — Most of the countries in the Gulf region have taken steps to liberalise movement of workers among companies to promote economic boom and keep it stable, an expert from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said.

By Ahmed Abdul Aziz (Our staff reporter)

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Published: Thu 24 Jan 2008, 9:11 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 5:56 PM

Speaking to Khaleej Times yesterday on the sidelines of the Gulf Forum on Temporary Contractual Labour held at the Emirates Palace in the capital, Dr Ibrahim Awad, Director of the International Immigration Programme of ILO, said the GCC countries were seeking, in cooperation with the ILO, to find different ways of sponsorship in their labour markets.

“After three decades of using the sponsorship system in the GCC region, they have started studying with the experts of the ILO the possibilities of changing the system, liberalising the movement of workers among the companies in the labour markets in the region,” said Dr Awad.

Dr Awad added the current system of imposing ban on workers who moved to another country or another company in the same country, and the difficulties in changing the sponsorships had been affecting adversely and were a major obstacle to the economic growth in the GCC.

“The most important feature of an open market is the free movement of labour that will enhance competition among the companies and will in time solve the problems in the labour market as well as protect the rights of the workers,” he explained.

Dr Awad described the procedures disabling the movement of workers among firms in the GCC countries as contradictory to the international law and the human rights charters that give the every employee the right to change his/her workplace.

“If we examine the ban on workers in GCC countries, we will find it as a defeatist not a preventive procedure for firms as it will affect the whole economy because these workers bring in experiences of working in different situations. The ban also negatively affect work stability,” says Dr Awad.

He supported forming of labour unions in the GCC countries and described them as ‘a necessity’.

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