Kuwait Sponsorship Confusion
"Last month Mohammad Al Afasi, Kuwait's Labour Minister, announced that Kuwait would cancel the ‘kafeel' sponsorship system by February 2011 as a "gift" to expatriates to mark the anniversary of the country's liberation from the 1991 Iraqi occupation.
"A day later, however, an under-secretary for the same ministry performed an about-turn. The government, the official told Al Jazeera, the satellite channel, was not about to cancel the system but only to amend it to make it easier for foreign workers to transfer sponsors.
"The result is confusion about the government's real intentions, fuelling opposition and scepticism and pitting officials against recruitment agency owners...
"Employers are also against change. They argue that sponsorship protects them, especially when recruiting skilled labour from overseas...
"If Kuwait does act it will be only the second GCC country to discard the kafeel laws after Bahrain, which set up an agency last year to issue work permits to foreigners. But workers in Bahrain are still tied to individual employers and the system has been criticised for failing to make a significant difference."