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Thursday, February 25, 2021

GCC mulls plan to cut number of expat workers in region

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 For illustrative purposes only
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Reducing the number of expat workers in the Gulf is expected to be one of the key issues on the agenda of an upcoming meeting between GCC government ministers next month.

A team, headed by the UAE’s labor minister, has drafted an initial policy to “harmonize” recruitment practices throughout the region and phase in a program to cut the number of expats in the states’ workforce, Qatar Tribune reports.

The draft policy will be presented at the 31st session of the GCC Labor and Social Affairs Ministers, which will be held in Kuwait in November. The newspaper quotes Aqeel Ahmed Al Jassim, the director general of the executive bureau of the council’s labor ministers, as saying:

“The decision to stop the recruitment of expatriate workers cannot be taken immediately but there are programs and plans aimed at reducing the number.”

Other Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia have previously launched efforts to reduce the number of expats in the workforce.

However, initiatives in Qatar currently focus on reserving a certain percentage of jobs for nationals, rather than limiting the influx of foreign workers.

Expat reductions

The main focus of the GCC study will be on jobs that could be filled by Gulf nationals, Al Jassim said.

GCC member states, including Qatar, have had in place employment nationalization programs for years, with targets and other incentives for public and private sector organizations to employ Gulf nationals.

In August, Qatar’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs announced its latest push in this area by setting up a new committee to further encourage private businesses to give at least 20 percent of their jobs to Qataris.

Currently, expats overwhelmingly dominate Qatar’s private sector.

According to a Labor Force survey conducted last year by the Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics, Qataris account for less than 1 percent of the total private sector workforce. Additionally, only 5 percent of employed Qataris hold private-sector jobs.

The National Development Strategy (NDS) 2011-16 seeks to boost this figure to 15 percent.

Anecdotally, sectors such as human resources and administration are now said to be dominated by Qataris, delegates at the recent How Women Find Work conference heard.

Domestic workers

Separately, Qatar’s Minister of Labor and Social Affairs is heading up a regional team to  look at issues facing domestic workers in the region, and will report on its findings the same ministerial summit.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A long-awaited unified contract regulating the recruitment and employment of domestic workers across all GCC states is one of the key issues expected to be discussed at this time.

This had been first proposed in early 2013, but then stalled in subsequent talks as member states failed to agree on clauses such as a mandatory day off and maximum working hours.

Earlier this year, Al Jassim said that another draft of the contract would be discussed in November.

The owner of a local recruitment agency, Hamad Mohamed Afeefa, told Al Raya that plans for setting up a permanent committee to examine issues around hiring maids would also be raised at the ministerial meeting.

Government officials and representatives from recruitment agencies would sit on the committee, which would have the power to set up GCC-wide agreements with countries to source domestic labor, the Peninsula said.

Agency regulations

Qatar has recently introduced multiple measures tightening restrictions on recruitment agencies, particularly those supplying manual and construction workers, and launched a month-long inspection campaign in response to a slew of complaints by expats and nationals.

Topping the list of customer frustrations are high agency fees, domestic workers who run away and agencies’ failure to replace women who choose to leave their sponsor.

Additionally, in July, MOLSA announced it would publicly name and shame manpower agencies which were found to have broken the Labor Law (Law No. 14 of 2004) .

The law bans agents from charging fees to recruit workers to Qatar and requires that all expats have a written contract signed before they enter the country.

However, a number of reports have found that some agents here and in the popular labor-sending countries do not follow these rules.

Thoughts?

22 COMMENTS

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Guest
Guest
6 years ago

Yeah.. go ahead plan to stop/reduce recruiting the expats; its your right to do so. However, before that make sure that the locals are willing to work at any position, at any place.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

Any action involving this political/economic union called the GCC are ridiculous and doomed to fail.

Christopher Lavelle
Christopher Lavelle
6 years ago

Hahahahaahaha, this has to be a joke. The gas and oil money (also extracted by ex pats) has paid for expats to build, develop, sustain and create in this region. Without the expats this place would be mud huts and palm trees.

sadam
sadam
6 years ago

i hope our government from my native country would have made reforms by then & that all corrupt public officials would just drop dead by the time comes they kick us out.

Rapha31
Rapha31
6 years ago
Reply to  sadam

Don’t you worry too much, we’ll probably be aged in the 70s or even more when that happen.

Ahmed A
Ahmed A
6 years ago

The reason is not labor related at all. And the actual expat numbers will not drop.. its all about the mix

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  Ahmed A

Isn’t this what Qatar has already been doing, but raising the threshold for family visas, and making it intentionally difficult to get school places, driving licenses etc?

As Ahmed rightly says, this isn’t about reducing the number of people *working* in the GCC countries, it’s about getting rid of their (burdensome) wives, kids, parents, cousins, and people on visit visas who insist on going to medical clinics and schools and shops and clogging up the roads.

Bornrich
Bornrich
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

You’ve got a good point there Michael… a trend that is leaving Qatar with highly transient professional expats who are sans family and unlikely to commit to anything more than 1-2 years. Not good for long term project continuity.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  Bornrich

Retaining staff to ensure long term project continuity is way down the list of priorities. The mentality is that staff are expendable and can always be replaced. As long as there is a bum on the seat working his/her allocated hours to the last minute (and more) then the Consultancies will receive their generous fees and the Client Rep will be seen to be doing his job. That’s all that counts.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago
Reply to  Bornrich

difference between Qatar and UAE: no planning vs planning. Qatar increasing house rents vs some Emirati companies compensate expats giving them the house as property after more than 10 years they have been working for the same company….should I add more? Of today on one of the Emirati newpapers stating that Emirates is studying a plan to give pensions to expats!

Here studying studying and still after many years still no plan for khafala

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

how dare these expats sending their children to schools!!!!!!!!!!!

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  fullmoon07

Yes they are sub human so why do they need to go to school?

Pete
Pete
6 years ago

Has anyone asked what reducing expat numbers will do to the economy?

MarkDoha
MarkDoha
6 years ago

The only way to meet the private sector targets would be to shut down 80% of private sector businesses, otherwise the numbers are physically impossible to reach. Box ticked, but economy ruined.

greylag
greylag
6 years ago

One good policy which the UAE has adopted is the mandatory ownership of local recruitment and employment agencies by locals. The license fee for contracting personnel is AED 1 million, and the licenses are restricted. This puts the onus for obeying the rules and regulations squarely on local business people. This has greatly reduced the number of back room agencies fronting for unscrupulous overseas recruiters.

ex_pat
ex_pat
6 years ago

Let’s call a spade a spade.

This is about restricting certain types of ex-pats.

Qatar is in no way, shape or form close to being able to backfill a) the unqualified and b) qualified expats who form the backbone of the workforce. All the rhetoric in the world is not going to change this fact.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

Racism at its best, anyway the sun wouldn’t even rise for a days work in Qatar without expats, so not going to happen.

Expat_QTR
Expat_QTR
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

By Reducing the Expats, they would ensure the countries way back to Deserts. instead of developing it and making life better, easy way is to fire them no questions asked. They dont think these people leave their families and come here just to earn an extra buck. But all the best in having these stipulated. it will be good to see GCC nationals getting their hands dirty on construction sites and serving us food and making Karak. Peace.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  Expat_QTR

They wouldn’t know how to even wipe their own arse…so if the expats leave they will have unwashed bums, nothing to eat, big long beards and dirty thobes standing next to Land Cruisers with no fuel, sitting outside McDonalds for ever in purgatory of beeping their horns for no response, wondering who the little humans are that look like them and are crying for food and attention and themselves crying because Vodaphone and Oreedoo isn’t working anymore…

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

Oh and to add to the purgatory, their beloved 4 or 5 number number plate they pay more for then 2 years for a maid who works 12 hours a day would turn into a 6 digit number plate and the landcruiser into a tilda with no way out!

Expat_QTR
Expat_QTR
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

hahaha….true that 🙂

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

If you look at what is hinted at here strongly, they are suggesting that jobs in the GCC should be filled with Gulf Nationals. So far, no problem. However they mean that gulf nationals could work in any GCC country and that has implications for Qatar.

When I once suggested that rather than hiring Indians or Filipinos that we recruited Omanis and Bharianis for our job in Qatar as they had the right experience and would be happy with the salaries offered I will never forget the look of horror on the Qatari management faces.

I thought I was making a sensible suggestion to reduce manpower shortage and filling positions with Arab brothers…. I learnt a valuable lesson that day.

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