The labour ministers in the labour-sending Asian countries held their consultative meeting on the sidelines of the World Government Summit 2023 in Dubai. Labour ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and their representatives, attended the meeting along with high-profile officials from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to exchange the best legal and regulatory practices related to labour mobility.
In his opening speech at the meeting, His Excellency Dr. Abdulrahman Al Awar, UAE Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, highlighted the significance of the meeting “as it contributes to the development of partnerships between labour-sending and labour-receiving countries in a way that serves their common interests and enhance the benefits resulting from labour mobility.”
He also reaffirmed the UAE’s commitment to develop its relations with the countries across the globe and its keenness to guarantee the rights of workers coming from those countries to work in the UAE.
His Excellency Gilbert Houngbo, Director General of the ILO, spoke about the importance of the workers’ contribution to the economies of their countries, supporting their families and communities, and the significance of developing relevant laws and policies. He pointed out the importance of combating forced labour, saying it is one of the challenges facing the world, which requires concerted efforts of all parties.
During the meeting, the UAE also highlighted its new regulation of the labour market, including the implementation of the Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Labour Relations, known as the ‘UAE Labour Law’, which provides a strong impetus to comprehensive development efforts in the economic sector to regulate the business environment in the country.
The UAE has also outlined the implementation of the Cabinet Resolution No. 18 of 2022 regarding the classification of private sector establishments, and the unemployment insurance scheme, which forms a social protection umbrella for employees in the UAE’s labour market. It also stressed the significance of supervision and inspection mechanisms implemented by the Ministry with high efficiency.
During the meeting, Bangladesh reaffirmed the importance of strengthening the relations between the labour-sending and the labour-receiving countries, highlighting its programs aimed at increasing the experiences and information of expatriates from Bangladesh across the world, including the GCC countries, in order to improve relations between all relevant parties and ensure smooth functioning.
On the other hand, Qatar shed light on its project to assess heat stress at work in the region and mitigating its effects as part of technical cooperation with the ILO. It also referred to the new resolution aimed at granting workers breaks during the summer months as well as conducting annual medical examinations to diagnose chronic diseases, keeping the medical records of workers, and their rights to file a complaint should they feel any threat to their health.
During the meeting, Pakistan reviewed the policies and legislation related to work, immigration, and institutional reforms to increase efficiency, such as facilitating digital transfers for workers through secure digital accounts, and enhancing the workers’ potential and increase their awareness, especially before travel for work, with platforms prepared to facilitate this process at airports. The country’s representative added that the move was implemented in parallel with partnerships with countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and South Korea, and strengthening the cooperation with the ILO, in addition to the participation in the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, which was launched in 2008 as a forum for dialogue and cooperation between Asian countries that send and receive labour. It is a voluntary consultative mechanism, directed by states members, and includes seven Asian countries that receive temporary expatriate workers, in addition to 11 Asian countries that send workers.
The Philippines praised the efforts of the UAE and other Gulf countries for their efforts to care for workers and preserve their rights, particularly since the countries receive a vast majority of Filipino workers are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, and Hong Kong.
His Excellency Dr Abdulrahman Al Awar attended a panel discussion within the ‘Future of Work Forum’ entitled ‘Governing the Future of Work’. He also held bilateral meetings with His Excellency Dr Narik Mkrtchian, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs in Armenia, His Excellency Afriansyah Noor, Deputy Minister of Manpower in Indonesia, and His Excellency Abdel Nasser Al Wali, Minister of Civil Service and Insurance of Yemen. The meetings touched on bilateral relations and strengthening cooperation in the field of manpower.