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MIGRANT WORKERS' VOICE CALLS FOR URGENT REVIEW OF THE UNITED NATIONS' (UN) EMPLOYER PAYS PRINCIPAL

THIS GUILDLINE HAS BEEN MISUSED BY THE GULF STATES AND SOME MIGRANT WORKERS' SENDING STATES TO EXPLOIT WORKERS UNDER THEIR KAFAALA SPONSORSHIP REGIMES WITH THE FOLLOWING REASONS; www.migrantworkersvoice.org


1. The employer pays all the fees of recruitment principle can be exploited by employers who use it as a means of controlling their workers.


2. It can lead to workers being tied up in contracts they did not agree to and being held at ransom.


3. The system can lead to debts for migrant workers who have to pay back fees and other costs associated with their recruitment.


4. It perpetuates a system of modern-day slavery by allowing employers to control the movement and freedom of their workers.


5. The Kafaala system used by Arabic states ties migrant workers to their employers, who have complete control over their movements and freedom.


6. The system is often used to control domestic workers, who are vulnerable due to language barriers and lack of knowledge of their rights.


7. The system has been linked to human trafficking, as workers are often promised one job and then forced into a completely different role.


8. It is a form of bonded labour, as workers are unable to leave their employers without permission or face punishment.


9. Domestic workers under this system are often subject to abuse, exploitation, and poor living conditions without any recourse to legal protections.


10. The system is a violation of human rights and is incompatible with modern-day employment practices.


The Kafaala system originated in the Middle East, where it was initially used for child adoption. The concept of kafaala, or sponsorship, involved a person taking responsibility for another’s wellbeing. Over time, this system was applied to domestic workers, particularly in the Gulf states, where the demand for domestic workers was high.


Under the Kafaala system, employers act as sponsors for migrant workers, providing them with visas and residency permits. However, the system ties the worker to the employer, who has complete control over their movements and freedom. The worker is unable to leave their employment without permission and faces punishment if they do. For domestic workers, this can lead to abuse, exploitation, and poor living conditions without any legal protections.


In conclusion, the UN principle of the employer paying all fees of recruitment perpetuates the Kafaala system, which is a form of modern-day slavery prevalent in the Gulf states. The system ties migrant workers to their employers, undermines their human rights, and is incompatible with modern-day employment practices. The system needs to be reformed to protect the rights and welfare of migrant workers.


Recommendations/ way forward.


By implementing a cost-sharing system for recruitment fees between migrant workers and employers, the following benefits can be achieved:


1. It promotes shared responsibility between workers and employers in the recruitment process.


2. It can reduce the financial burden on employers, making it less attractive for them to exploit workers.


3. It encourages transparency and fairness in the selection and recruitment of workers, reducing the risk of trafficking and exploitation.


4. It can provide greater protection for workers, as they have a financial stake in the process and are less likely to be tied to abusive employers.


5. It can help to prevent debt bondage for migrant workers, as they are not solely responsible for repaying recruitment fees.

6. It can reduce the risk of workers being held in captivity or being forced to work under duress.


7. It can help to reduce the demand for unscrupulous middlemen or agents who charge exorbitant fees for their services.


8. It can foster a culture of mutual respect and cooperation between workers and employers in contract negotiations and employment relationships.


9. It can help to shift the power dynamic between workers and employers, promoting greater equality in the workplace.


10. It can lead to improvements in working conditions and labour standards overall, as workers have a greater voice in shaping workplace policies and practices.


In short, a cost-sharing system for recruitment fees can help to eliminate the issues associated with the UN employer pays principle, by promoting greater fairness, transparency, and accountability in the recruitment process, and by safeguarding the rights and welfare of migrant workers.

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