DOHA: The GCC countries hope to have a common law to regulate the domestic sector workforce, including maids, so they could have a unified job contract format for house helps.
A draft of the law that is proposed to be enforced by every GCC state is ready and is likely to be tabled for approval at a meeting of regional labour and social affairs ministers to be held in Manama next October.
A regional committee had been set up earlier for making the draft, some of whose clauses might be amended slightly during the approval process. Once the law is in force in the member-states, it would be possible for the countries to have a common employment contract system for domestic sector workers.
The GCC states have been forced to take this step because some major manpower exporting countries are imposing their terms on these states and fixing minimum wages.
The GCC states do not have separate laws for the domestic workforce sector and house helps are regulated by the labour law in each country, which is leading to serious regulatory challenges.
The head of a human resource committee at the Federation of GCC Chambers of Commerce, Saher Al Kabi, told a Saudi Arabia-based news website, Al Iqtisad.net, the proposed regional law and common contract system for maids in the region could go a long way in helping battle the problem of runaway workers.
The website quoted the head of an association of Kuwaiti manpower agencies specialising in recruiting maids, Fadil Ashkinani, as saying that the most important thing was to regulate the recruitment process of maids. “Almost 60 percent of the problems facing the domestic workforce sector would be resolved if we have a law and a strict regulatory regime that keeps a tight leash on the recruitment process,” Ashkinani said. Also, what is needed is a GCC-wide administrative body tasked with implementing the regulations and fixing minimum wages, he added. The regulations covering the domestic sector workforce in force in the region are not suitable and they need drastic changes, Ashkinani said.
Al Kabi earlier told the website that international rights organisations were pressurising GCC countries to grant citizenship to expats living in the countries for more than 10 years.
The GCC countries maintain that since the customs and traditions of the expats are different, giving them citizenship rights was no possible, said