Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Ministry of Labour take steps to prevent abuse of sponsorship system in UAE


Saqr Gobash Saeed Gobash, Minister of Labour-


Expats allowed to find jobs after contract ends
The Ministry of Labour will take steps to prevent abuse of the sponsorship system.In a statement to the Federal National Council yesterday, Saqr Gobash Saeed Gobash, Minister of Labour, defended the sponsorship system saying that it was legal and common in many countries, but under different names.
Admitting the existence of abuses of the system and illegal practices, Gobash pledged actions will be taken to stop these abuses and illegal practices.He was responding to a question raised by Yousuf Obaid Ali Al Nuaimi, a representative from Ras Al Khaimah, who called for free labour movement and cancellation of costly sponsorship system.Gobash said the labour ministry will soon issue a decision allowing workers, whose contracts ended, to join new jobs if the market is in real need of them.
Gobash said that the move approved by the Cabinet will address certain negative impacts of the sponsorship system for foreign workers.One day earlier, Al Nuaimi told Gulf News the sponsorship system for foreign workers must be scrapped within three to five years to stop misuse of the system and allow free movement of workers.
He added the existing labour sponsorship system, according to a study, costs the country about Dh50 billion a year to host more than four million foreign workers. The representative rejected the labour minister's statement, which he said fell short of answering many queries he raised.He demanded that the minister show up in person at a later session to address these issues.
The representative suggested that before abolishing the costly system, rules must be enforced to protect rights of workers and employers."Eventually, all foreign workers must be under the jurisdiction of one authority — the Ministry of Labour. Workers must be allowed to change jobs smoothly once a contract ends and no employer should be allowed to withhold workers' passports," Al Nuaimi said.
He added employers' rights must also be guaranteed, citing the right of every business to protect information it regarded as commercially sensitive.
According to an estimate, the average annual cost of hosting a worker is about Dh55,000.
Gobash, however, said the ministry will respect the contracts signed between workers and employers. ‘The ministry [of Labour] will not intervene between workers and employers during the period of these contracts, unless a party failed to abide by its obligations. After the job contract ends, each party to it will be free to determine the new relationship they wish to enter either with the same party or a third party. There will be no restrictions as long as no violation of the law is made."
Cost of workers in UAE
The minister also stressed commitment to guarantee any rights of the employers and restore the government's full control of the labour market.
The cost of a skilled worker is Dh144,000 and the cost of an unskilled worker is Dh33,000, according to Dr Mouawiya Al Awad, Director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research at Zayed University.The overall average annual administrative and recruitment costs per worker are estimated at Dh2,674. For skilled workers the cost is Dh3,404 while it is Dh2,296 for unskilled workers