You have reached the main content

International Worker's Day: A Quick Glance at the Arab Region

On May 1, 2014

International Worker's Day, or May Day, commemorates the 19th century struggle for safe working conditions, decent pay, maximum working hours, and other basic labour rights. Many, including migrant workers throughout the Gulf and wider Middle East, continue to contend for these rights.

Most Arab regional states have signed only some of the core labor conventions that establish fundamental principles and rights at work: freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour; the effective abolition of child labour; and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

Aside from Kuwait, none of the Gulf states have signed the conventions relating to freedom of association.

Of course, signatories' national labor laws are not necessarily compliant with these conventions. But even for those rights that are incorporated into law, few are extended to migrant workers.

Take a look at our campaigns and research centre for a more in-depth look at the issues facing migrant workers across the region.