Qatar on 13 December 2016 abolished the controversial Kafala labour system. The system has been replaced with a new contract-based labour system to ensure enhanced rights to the migrant labourers.
Why Kafala System became controversial?
• Kafala is based on sponsorship model. Under this, every immigrant worker to Qatar required a local sponsor. The sponsor may be in the form a company or an individual.
• An immigrant worker needed the permission of the sponsor to switch jobs or leave the company.
• The discretionary power on the part of the sponsor was misused a lot of times. The sponsors used to exploit the expatriates physically, financially and emotionally.
• Hence, the kafala system was identified as modern-day slavery.
What are the features of the Contract-based system?
• Under this system, an immigrant worker needs to enter into a contract with a company or an individual to obtain work visa.
• Under this system, a worker can change job easily by fulfilling obligations under the contract.
• Exit from the country is guaranteed as the worker is no longer required the prior approval of the company or individual employer.
How will the new system benefit Qatar?
• The adoption of the contract based labour system will enable smooth flow of immigrant workers across the borders.
• It improves the investor confidence in the country’s labour practices and will eventually lead to more foreign direct investment (FDI) as well as foreign portfolio investment (FII).
• It will facilitate the timely completion of stadiums, roads and other infrastructure projects related to the upcoming FIFA World Cup. The mega event will be held across 7 cities of Qatar in 2022.
How will it benefit India?
• India is the major beneficiary of the new system as 7 lakh out of the total 2.1 million foreign workers belong to India.
• Most of the migrants from India are prone to exploitation because of low literacy levels and poverty. Hence, legal safeguards under the new system will improve their working conditions.