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Labour Protests At UAE Embassy, Demands Respect For African Migrant Workers

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By Michael Oche, Abuja

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) as well as the National Trade Union Network on Migration,yesterday in Abuja called for the protection of the rights of African migrant workers in the United Arab Emirates as well as other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.

The workers during a rally at the UAE embassy in Abuja condemned the maltreatment and abuses of Nigerians and other African labour migrants to the United Arab Emirates.

The protest was led by the FCT council of the NLC.

In a protest letter handed over to the deputy ambassador of the UAE to Nigeria, the workers called for a halt or the genuine reform of the Khafala sponsorship system being practiced in Gulf States, which ties a migrant worker to a particular owner.

The letter jointly signed by chairman of NLC FCT council, Abubakar Yakubu and the coordinator, National Trade Union Network on Migration, James Eustace demanded among other things, decent wages and working conditions for African migrants, especially domestic workers; access to justice where the rights of migrants have been violated; enjoyment of labour rights, including right to freedom of association.

The workers who decried the poor working conditions of African Migrant Workers said the UAE is the 5th largest migrant home with the highest rate of migrants in relation to its population.

“The objective is to ensure that the United Arab Emirates better guarantee rights to migrant workers in general, and Africans in particular, better living and working conditions, protecting them from abuses and exploitations of crooked entrepreneurs and employment agencies and traffickers,” the letter reads in part.

It further called for the removal of exit visa for migrant workers as well as the review of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD) to include African Governments as partner members and not as “invitees”, and also for non-state actors (trade unions and C505) inclusion that is facilitated by the ADD.

It demanded further that, “On driving a fair recruitment, United Arab Emirates should be concerned and demand that sending countries respect ILO provisions contained in Convention 181(Employment Agencies); Convention 97 (Migration); Convention 143 (Migration for Employment); and Convention 189 (Decent Work for Domestic Workers).”

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