By Staff writer
New contract entitles maids to a weekly day off, annual leave and limits the working day to eight hours - report
Gulf labour ministers have agreed on minimum terms to improve the contracts of more than two million domestic staff working in the region, a top official was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
The move comes as labour ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are to meet with their Asian counterparts in Kuwait this week to discuss the issue.
The new contract entitles domestic workers to a weekly day off, annual leave and the right to live outside their employer's house, the director general of Kuwait's Public Manpower Authority, Jamal Al Dossari, told AFP.
It also limits the working day to eight hours, AFP reported.
The GCC has repeatedly come under strong criticism by international rights groups for alleged maltreatment of foreign workers, particularly domestic helpers.
"The contract has been approved by the ministers, though some countries said they have laws that are better for workers. The ministers agreed that the contract should be the minimum granted to workers," Dossari was quoted as saying.
Under the contract, domestic helpers are also entitled to end of service indemnity and overtime pay for extra work for a maximum of two hours daily, in addition to banning employers from confiscating the workers' passports.
On Sunday, a total of 90 international rights and labour groups called in a joint statement for action to protect migrant workers, especially maids in the Gulf.
The statement charged that millions of Asians and Africans are facing abuses including unpaid wages, confiscation of passports, physical violence and forced labour.
India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, which are the main sources of workers in the Gulf, are among the countries taking part in talks on Wednesday and Thursday.
It's about time! I just hope it will be enforced...
Just basic human rights returned back to these poor folks after long suffering.