Power of the Unfair Sponsorship System

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Among the debate about hiking expats visa fees and the performance of the Labor Ministry, Sultan al-Amer points out to one oft-ignored factor that has contributed to the problem of unemployment in Saudi Arabia: Power. He writes:

An employer can take advantage of a foreign worker through the sponsorship system in a way that makes the foreign worker more attractive than the Saudi worker who is protected by the state. Therefore, educating the national workforce and raising the cost of foreign labor are not enough to solve the problem of unemployment, unless the power relation is changed between the employers and employees in the private sector. The source of this power is mainly drawn from the fact that business owners have commerce chambers, i.e. they have the ability to assemble and negotiate as a bloc, whereas the workers don’t have such rights. Granting such rights to workers will not only make it easier to solve the problem of unemployment, but can also reduce the magnitude of injustice that the sponsorship system imposes on foreign workers.

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