May 08, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan labour unions have signed co-operation agreements with unions in Bahrain, Jordan and Kuwait to protect migrant workers™ rights, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said. The agreements, based on an ILO model, are the first of their kind covering Asian migrant workers active in Arab states.
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The ILO said it will ask governments to ensure strict control of employment agencies and subcontractors, and eliminate abuse of sponsorship schemes.
The agreements are aimed at granting migrant workers in the three important destination countries for Sri Lanka migrant workers ‘the full panoply of labour rights included in internationally-recognized standards’.
According to Sri Lanka’s foreign employment bureau, there are over 300,000 Sri Lankan workers in Kuwait, over 75,000 in Jordan and 45,000 in Bahrain.
“We believe trade unions have a special role to play in relation to migrant workers as this group of workers have weak bargaining power in the labour market, because they often are not organized in trade unions and sometimes not allowed to join trade unions,” said Tine Staermose, Director of the ILO Sri Lanka Office.
The labour union deals include action t