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11 Okt 2016

James Lynch, Middle East Eye

Opinion: Migrant workers trapped by Saudi's kafala system bear the brunt of country's economic downturn

"Migrant workers bear the brunt of Saudi's archaic kafala system",  10 Oct 2016.

Gulf states and workers' countries of origin should make immediate reforms to protect those at the very bottom of the payment chain. It has been a year that has exposed, as never before, the harsh consequences for migrant workers in Saudi Arabia when things go wrong...Major construction firms, reeling from cuts in government spending, have faced a cash-flow crisis, which has choked much of the industry. The fate of Saudi Binladin group and Saudi Oger has attracted particular attention, but the effects have been spread across their subcontractors and suppliers. Migrant workers are almost always the first to be affected, sitting at the very bottom of the payment chain.

...[T]he economic downturn collided with the country’s archaic kafala (“sponsorship”) system..workers need their bankrupt employers to issue them exit permits, return their passports and issue them tickets home. Company collapses can quickly develop into full-blown humanitarian crises.