The ILO helps re-energize the Migrant Workers Office at the Kuwait Trade Union Federation

The ILO launched a bi-monthly meeting programme at the Kuwait Trade Union Federation, convening migrant workers, representing at least sixteen migrant communities in Kuwait, and various national trade union leaders and coordinators, to discuss key challenges in labour migration in the country.

News | 15 December 2021
The meetings aim to both raise awareness and come up with recommendations to improve protection and empowerment of migrant workers, but also enables communication between national and migrants on an equal footing, and encourages networking between trade unions and migrants.

The first meeting, held on 2 August 2021, discussed the health impact of the pandemic on migrant workers. Participants were presented with the latest government measures and rules regarding the pandemic and how it affects the workplace.

Participants were also encouraged to brainstorm major issues that migrant workers faced in relations to the pandemic. Those issues were collated and analyzed to extract the best collective recommendations including ensuring occupational safety and health provisions cover vulnerable migrant workers.

Shaifk, a representative of the Sri Lankan community at the Migrant Workers Office, stated that these meetings come at an opportune time to discuss the challenges facing migrant workers in the country. “It is great to connect with migrants from other communities and hear the issues they are facing,” he added.

The Migrant Workers Office at the Kuwait Trade Union Federation was established in 1997. Currently, members of sixteen nationalities represent their communities at the Office, including Ghana, Kenya and Malawi. The Office offers occasional legal aid and advice, as well as periodic meetings and awareness raising activities.

The second meeting on 16 October 2021 focused on the future work and the challenges that migrant workers will face with work disruptions. Participants discussed the need to increase investments in lifelong learning, workers’ associations and unions, and decent work agenda for all.

Furthermore, participants discussed how technology can be harnessed to provide innovative solutions to enhance decent work conditions. Labour inspection can be conducted online, ensuring wider access to migrants’ workplaces and accommodations. Outreach to migrant workers, especially those in remote areas or inaccessible during work hours, to organize and mobilize can be facilitated by online tools and social media.

With the work disruptions caused by COVID-19 in mind, participants listed the difficulties that will face vulnerable workers in the future. Identifying gaps in current migration and labour policies, the participants provided several recommendations for unions and governments in both the countries of origin and Kuwait. One recommendation emphasized the need to promote social protection to include migrant workers and those working in the informal sector.

Mohamed, a representative of the Kenyan community, said that he found the meetings informative. “Convening workers from different countries and unions help us think of solutions to shared problems facing migrant and local workers alike.”

The Kuwait Trade Union Federation in collaboration with the ILO aims to continue and expand those meeting. The next meeting will discuss Convention (No. 190) on violence and harassment in the world of work. In addition to representatives of migrant workers, community leaders and the Women’s Committee at the Kuwait Trade Union Federation will attend the meeting.