Reuters: "Gulf states still wedded to kafil system"

Pessimistic outlook on the idea of norm-spread resulting from Bahrain's big move.  In sum, the article seems to put out a trade-off between reform for a more humane labor rights law towards foreigners and job security for nationals.  However, like any bandage that must be removed, it is better to rip it off quickly than to hold it off.  Everyone knows the national work ethic is completely unsustainable.  One day, the current benefit system for nationals, if still dependent on oil revenues, will no longer insist.  This will eventually lead oil-rich societies in the Gulf to adapt their societies accordingly.  This is going to most likely have to happen sooner than later, and I really feel the end of an era will be approached quite soon.  

If legal reform for workers was framed around ideas of bringing a country into an era of greater progress, modernity, development, and yes, maybe even greater Muslim morals incorporated in practice, then maybe you could incentivize citizens.  However, the idea of giving foreign workers even MINIMUM human rights in the work sphere as stipulated by the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation agreements is built up as releasing a floodgate of foreigner demands that could lead to political rights.  This protectionist fear tactic, concern for nationalisation and growing mistrust of the foreign-to-citizen population ratio is only building up as a reaction to the economic crisis.  The regional office for the ILO should really move out of Kuwait and into Bahrain in my view.

Below is the opening text and link to an article that gives a succinct survey of the state of the kafila sponsorship system in the different GCC countries following Bahrain's reforms.

MANAMA/DUBAI: Gulf Arab states are unlikely to follow Bahrain in dumping the controversial kafil system used to import millions of foreigners as demand for cheap labor outweighs worries about job prospects for local people.

According to the CIA World Factbook''s July 2009 estimation figures, Kuwait currently holds 2,691,158 residents, 1,291,354 of which are nonـnationals.

Kuwait has introduced a minimum wage for some lowـwage jobs such as cleaners after violent protests by Bangladeshi workers but analysts say the rules are not always implemented.

The government has submitted a bill to give workers more rights but critics say it will not help much as it keeps the sponsorship system intact. (for link click here)

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